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The year 2021 has seen a transformation in viewing habits with the pandemic changing how viewers consume media and acting as a catalyst to drive the increasing adoption of OTTs. Global players, as well as Indian streaming services, are seeing dramatic growth in viewership in an evolving market backed by affordable data pushing, increased internet penetration and smartphone adoption. But this is just the beginning.
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As the shadow of the pandemic recedes, consumption trends may dip but have created a far higher new normal compared to pre-pandemic levels. Due to the recovery of the global economy, along with the rising incomes and growing exposure to international content, the consumers are accepting diverse content on a variety of subjects. The coming year holds great promise for the OTT market along with some challenges.
So let’s look at some of the key trends that are going to shape the OTT space in the coming year.
The emergence of the empowered consumer
The year 2022 will see increasing empowerment of the consumers to make their own choices. With multiple OTT models including SVOD (subscription-based platforms), AVOD (advertising-based platforms), and TVOD (transaction-based platforms), the consumer will be spoilt for choice. We will see a significant section of traditional television consumers changing into OTT experimenters as they move from sampling the content to getting habituated and being hooked making it a necessity in 2022.
Localisation and 'Cohort'isation
With regional internet penetration growing at over 50 percent, localisation of content and OTT apps are going to play a key role in maximising content investments. All eyes will be on regional content to capture the next 100 million SVOD subscribers. Hindi content will continue to dominate, but we will see a flurry of regional originals and Direct-To-OTT movie releases. Owing to the growing popularity of regional and localised content, dubbing and subtitling will play a significant role in growing the content bank.
Besides regional, we will also see certain niche cohorts like devotional, kids, and senior citizens getting curated OTT experiences. Another trend in this space is going to be the new wave of superstars created by the OTT originals in addition to the existing regional superstars entering the OTT space.
With over 50 OTTs live and about 5 new ones sprouting every month, the industry will be poised for consolidation. However, an OTT platform with just sound technology will mean little to incumbents. At the core of it, OTTs run because of the content on the platform, and thus we will see a consolidation of media brands, just like we are already seeing with some of the prominent players in the industry.
App aggregation and bundling
As SVOD revenues are set to rise, app aggregation will play an important role in expanding the market. It brings significant value to the consumer in terms of affordability, useability (single sign-on, single-window content discovery, etc.), and compatibility with his/her device (1 app instead of 6 to 7).
According to a FICCI-EY-Report , over 65 percent of telco-provided data is consumed for entertainment purposes and around 80 percent of viewership volumes of some OTT platforms are generated by telcos. With the increased bundling of content by telcos, this trend will continue in the coming year too.
Mobile centric plans
OTT cuts across every age segment, and if it aims to get deeper into India, mobile penetration of the OTT will need to be the prime focus. Hence, all players have introduced mobile-only plans that will bring in the Millennials and GenZs who have the hunger to consume but not the deep pockets to pay.
With constant innovation in OTT technologies, there will be a significant demand for off-the-shelf SAAS- based AI tools with global demand that cater to the smaller long tail of OTT players in India. It will be particularly seen in the areas of smart transcoding, optimised CDN utilisation, post-production, engagement, and data analytics. In 2022, this space can be seen drawing a lot of capital inflow by investors.
Every opportunity comes with its own set of challenges and the OTT space is not an exception. Let’s look at some of the crucial challenges that every OTT needs to be cognizant of:
The fight against piracy is a continuous and collaborative effort from the industry, government, and OTT platforms. The piracy of content is rampant the moment premium new content gets onto the OTT platform for SVOD monetisation. Within minutes of a new release, the content lands upon some unofficial destinations for free consumption. While OTTs are constantly deploying tech solutions to fix this, there is also an adequate need for policy and law to eradicate this menace.
2. Managing churn
Consumers today are more content loyal than platform loyal due to which they keep switching between two or more platforms to consume the content they want. Unlike banking or telecom which are homogenous services, OTT is a heterogeneous service that makes it even more critical to ensure that customers stay on the platform, consume more content and come back more frequently.
3. Keeping CAC in tight check
In any business, turning lucrative is a must and OTT is not an exception. Minimising customer acquisition costs (CAS) while ensuring scale at speed at the same time is a critical key performance indicator (KPI) to manage. The key running costs will always be content, CAC, and Content Delivery Network (CDN).
-Zubin Dubash is COO-ShemarooMe and Digital Businesses, Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd. Views expressed are personal
First Published: Dec 28, 2021 3:03 PM IST