[Editorial Analysis] OTT apps step up content war, eye paid subscribers

Mains Paper 3: Science and Technology

Prelims level: OTT

Mains level: OTT revolution and its effects

Context

• On its first anniversary last fortnight, Zee5, the digital video streaming platform run by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, announced 72 new original shows.

• The originals’ line-up till March 2020 includes shows across genres and languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali and Malayalam.

• Zee5 India chief executive officer (CEO) Tarun Katial said the platform has focused on vernacular to expand as “India lies in its languages”.

• Even MX Player, the video streaming brand from Times Internet Ltd, shared plans for its first five originals that went live recently.

• Karan Bedi, CEO, MX Player, said 25 new shows have been planned for the next 12 months, of which 50% will be in Hindi.

OTT status in India

• The battle for eyeballs led by content has just intensified.

• According to experts in the over-the-top (OTT) video streaming sector, big money is pouring into content for web shows.

• The total investment in original content at ₹1,000 crore a year for the top 10-15 players.

• “This, of course, does not include movie acquisitions, sports, aggregated content and catch-up TV,” he said.

• Others peg the figure closer to ₹2,000 crore, excluding sports rights, for all 30 players operating in India.

Battle between content and TV viewership

• There are close to 200 million televisions in India, with 98% being single-TV households.

• But with nearly 400 million smartphones, the addressable market is huge. “There’s an insatiable demand for content,” said Bedi.

• However, content alone will not determine the winner.

• You need efficient video technology for India’s patchy network, varying data speeds and large spectrum of devices.

• It should work both on top-end as well as feature phones.

• Sure, the most riveting story will win, but in a tech platform, quality of content and quality of content experience go hand-in-hand.

• Pricing will be key to growth in subscription-led video-on-demand (SVoD) services in India’s value-conscious, volume-led market.

• “Quality of the service ease of navigation, user interface, streaming speeds is another factor that impacts churn and drop-off,” said Nair.

Way forward

• The biggest challenge will be making money in this market. To be sure, the advertising-led video-on-demand (AVoD) services are about size and scale.

• “This is about the 250 million customers who won’t suddenly start paying,” said Akash Banerji, head of marketing, partnerships and licensing, Voot.

• In SVoD, the advantage is that you are not dependent on the advertiser and make money from consumers.

• “But it’s a very, very small market.

• Scaling up subscription is a slow-moving process.

• There may be only 4-5 million paying consumers and, those who pay consistently, will be a fraction of this,” he said.

• But this number will continue to grow. “It is easy to overestimate this market in the short term and underestimate it in the long term,” he added.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) The recently launched PARIVESH- Pro Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive and Virtuous Environment Single Window Hub, is meant for:

(a) online submission and monitoring of proposals for environment clearances.

(b) uploading and tracking of proposals under the government e-marketplace.

(c) online submission of application for enrolments into the National Health Protection Scheme.

(d) tracking projects under the Invest India scheme.

Answer: A

Mains Questions:

Q.1) OTT apps changes the TV viewership taste in India. Comment.

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