With the diverse content and increasing popularity, the OTT platforms are anticipated to be the New Normal for entertainment space. Amidst the lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, OTT platforms in India have been attracting more and more subscribers on a daily basis. The OTT media services have generated new trends that have changed the preference and content consumption of Indian viewers. At present, India is the world’s fastest growing OTT market.
By Okram Umadini
An OTT (over-the-top) media service refers to any type of video or streaming media service that offers a viewer direct access to movies or TV shows by sending the media directly through the internet bypassing cable, broadcast and satellite TV platforms, the traditional distribution network. OTT services are typically accessed via websites on personal computers, as well as via apps (applications) on mobile devices. Originally, they started as the content hosting platforms but soon fall into making originals of their own.
Over the past few years, OTT streaming services have been growing tremendously in India as well as other parts of the world. People have started accepting them as the new and one of the most popular ways to consume video media. They are literally changing the way that the world view TV and video. It means that the possible viewing platforms are constantly changing and evolving to provide the best possible user experience.
Few of the infinite reasons OTT services are accepted widely today are mentioned below:
- The OTT content is easily accessible. To stream OTT platforms which offer free subscription policy or a free trial in the initial days/month (s) of subscription, subscribers only require a high speed internet connection and a connected device that supports apps or browser. Also for the paid OTT services, the cost of subscription is quite affordable. One membership is all that is required for the entire family to watch several shows and movies.
- It offers the subscribers the liberty and flexibility to exercise choices; choice of medium, choice of place, choice of time and also the choice of consuming preferred content only. It is based on the following slogans: Anytime, Anywhere, Anything.
- The traditional entertainment platforms have failed to deliver the diverse content to the youths of today who are looking for a heterogeneous quality content which can be offered by the OTT platforms.
- An OTT media service can offer us our favourite shows without commercials which made the experience much better.
- With movie theatres and outdoor entertainment sites being shut down as a result of the lockdown imposed due to COVID-19 pandemic, OTT platforms emerge as the new digital screens for entertainment. Vibhu Agarwal, CEO and Founder, ULLU app says, “The pandemic has given a huge boom to all the OTT platforms. Much like other OTT platforms, we have seen a significant surge in our footfall. More people are aware about ULLU and the content it offers. Normally, if 100 people download the app, 40 subscribe to it. The conversation has always been at the range of 40-45%. However, during lockdown, it went up to 75%. So, we started seeing 75 subscribers per 100 downloads”.
- Before broadcasting in general TV, some shows and films are streamed on online platforms. Therefore, online media services are the best options for the first show lovers of films or any web series.
- Many (most of the) television channels have launched their own online media platforms and even collaborate with others to stream their content. It offers the viewers the liberty of choice of time to enjoy the shows as there is no restriction of time limit of broadcasting as in the traditional media. To compete with other rising OTT services, they even produce their own original content.
Growth of OTT streaming market in India
The rise of OTT industry is a new trend in India’s entertainment industry. The country’s OTT industry is one of the fastest growing market in the world today. According to the latest EY-FICCI Indian Media and Entertainment Report, digital streaming platforms crossed film entertainment to rank the third largest Media and Entertainment Sector in 2019, India. The OTT sector in India witnessed a 30% rise in the number of paid subscription from 22.2 million to 29.0 million between March and July 2020.
There are about 40(forty) OTT media services in India at present. The most dominant ones are Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Regional media services also do well and have a huge number of users.
The widely subscribed popular OTT media services in India are given below:
It is one of the largest subscription-based streaming platforms in the world with over 203.66 million customers globally. It first arrived in India in 2016. Some of the best originals (Netflix Originals) include Sacred Games, Stranger Things, Daredevil, Punisher, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Mismatched, Masaba Masaba and many others.
It is a member of the Motion Picture Association (MPA), producing and distributing content from countries all over the globe. With unlimited media content, it is one of everyone’s favourite online media platforms.
Amazon Prime Video
Introduced in 2016 in India, it has the largest number of subscribers in the country. It has around 200 million subscribers worldwide and the number is increasing everyday.
It is a subscription-based OTT platform which offers its own originals (Amazon Prime Originals) as well as media content from other providers.
Some of the most popular Prime Originals are Breath : Into the Shadows, Panchayat, Made in Heaven, Goliath, The Boys, Mirzapur, The Family Man and a whole lot of comedy series and shows.
Launched in India in April 2020, the subscription video on-demand streaming service is a partnership between Disney+ and Hotstar.
In India, it presently has 28.5 million members, making it one of the most popular streaming service. It has movies, shows and sports. It also streams IPL or English Premier League and many other famous Sports tournaments making it the favourite for many sports’ lovers.
Best Hotsar Original web series include Criminal Justice, Special Ops, Euphoria, City on a Hill, Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai, Silicon Valley, Westworld, etc.
Viacom 18’s digital platform Voot, launched in 2016, offers all shows aired on Viacom 18 television channels. It also streams lots of original content. Earlier it was absolutely free and require no subscription but Viacom 18 launched Voot Select, an online service that, unlike the previous platform, Voot, requires a membership. Some episodes and movies are still available for free, but some exclusive series and movies are available only to subscribers.
It is the online streaming platform from the Zee Network launched in February, 2018. It offers all the shows, movies and even news content from the Zee Network. It also streams original content. It has a loyal fan base owing to its television content from the past.
It offers a few shows, movies and series for free but Zee5 Premium offers many exclusive movies and series with various subscription packs.
It is the online media platform for Sony India launched in January, 2013. It has a lot of popular shows on its platform like Kaun Banega Crorepati, Indian Idol, Taarak Mehta ka Ooltah Chashmah, Crime Patrol and many more. It also live streams Football Tournaments like the UEFA Championship League and UEFA Europa League. It is a free service but also has a premium version offering certain exclusive shows, movies and series.
It is the online service for Balaji Telefilms launched in April 2017.It has access to many original and Indian content, movies, shows and kids’ exclusives. It has around 76 million active monthly users and around 5 million paid subscribers. It is a paid service but we can get a free trial of seven days.
There are also platforms like Saavn, Wynk, etc. that have become more popular due to its wide variety of choices in music. YouTube is the 4th most used app in India.
With the current popularity of OTT platforms, India is expected to become the 6th largest OTT market in the world by 2024. According to a report, the Indian OTT market is set to reach ₹ 237.86 billion by 2025 from ₹ 45.50 billion in 2019.
With the increasing number of users and acceptance of OTT platforms, various demands and expectations will be raised. The future of OTT in India is defined by diverse and quality content. OTT platforms must ensure to provide and maintain content according to user demand, focussing more on youth friendly.
(Okram Umadini is a funal year student of MA Mass Communication, Manipur University)