OTT - The New Destination


Posted on 2021-07-09 12:03:53, by Seawind

Over-the-Top platforms (OTT) are a natural progression. They're a byproduct of technological disruption, a means of integrating the digital revolution into one of the most iconic, modern conveniences.

The OTT umbrella supports the delivery of film and TV content over the internet, a merging of television and digital video to forge a singular, revolving content stream.

Advancements in data management, cloud-based storage, and streaming have given way to an entire lineage of OTT related products, software, apps, content, and marketing campaigns.

The OTT Advantage

With OTT video delivery technology, people now have a multitude of options at their fingertips. They have the ability to view content on a variety of platforms such as: Smart TVs, Roku, computers, tablets, mobile phones, or gaming consoles. They also have the option to access multiple distributors for specialized programs and view channels by “app switching”, giving them more control over the content they choose to purchase and watch.

In fact, while they both use IP technology, IPTV is delivered over private cable network compared to OTT delivered over internet services. OTT systems overcome the limitations of the single operator set top box (STB) technology required by IPTV. With OTT, content is only delivered upon request. Each connected device has a unique connection to the source of the content via the internet, making it “unicast”- delivering one stream to one device.

How does OTT Work

One of the inherent problems with serving TV content over the internet is being able to contend with the wide range of network performance. Performance depends on what speed the connection will support (e.g. Fiber, Wi-Fi, LTE, DSL), the display device (e.g. phone, streaming device like Roku, Apple TV, or Firestick, or laptop), and then how many network hops there are between the provider and the end user. At a high-level, OTT systems and technologies are designed to minimize the impact these parameters have, by providing a “best effort” approach to serving up the content. That is, OTT technology will adjust to the network performance of the entire chain in real-time so that the video and audio are delivered without pauses caused by buffering. These pauses are extremely frustrating for the viewer and may cause them to abandon the content.

Future of OTT

Assuming the crisis is not going to get over anytime soon, here is a brief outlook on what could be the future of OTT in India:

1. Growth Forecast for OTT: According to a BCG Report, the OTT industry in India likely to reach $ 5 bn in size by 2023. An increase in disposable income, an increase in internet penetration to rural markets and OTT video adoption across demographic segments have been the key drivers of OTT market growth in India.

2. Rural demand will drive OTT: With increased internet penetration in rural area (estimated to be ~650 mn by 2023), OTT players are keen on developing regional content to cater to the rural markets. This is confirmed by Nachiket Pantvaidya, CEO, ALTBalaji and Group COO, Balaji Telefilms who mentioned in one of the interviews that lack of other entertainment options has spurred audiences (mostly from Tier2 & Tier 3 cities)

3. Content is always the key: To keep up with the growing demand for more content, OTT behemoth Netflix is planning to spend INR 3000 crore to create content in the Indian context. At the same time, production houses with immense production experience, knowledge about what content consumers prefer are venturing from linear TV to OTT. Many production houses have already made the collection of their content available for platforms like YouTube. Most of them have already started reaching out to other rising OTT platforms of preference in India such as Hotstar, Sony LIV, Hoichoi, Eros Now and Sun NXT.

4. OTT freebies provide arsenal for telecom wars: Proliferation of smartphones and internet connectivity at a cheaper rate coupled with extended lockdowns and its repercussions, OTT seems to be the next normal in the world of entertainment. Therefore, telecom carriers are offering incentives such as subscriptions to services from Netflix to Amazon Prime to win customers in a content-hungry market.

5. Kids Edutainment: In a 2019 report by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, the share of localized content across national kids’ entertainment channels detailed an increase from 33% in 2016 to 39% in 2018. There is a huge market in the kid’s genre and along with the international players like POGO, Cartoon Network, Discovery Kids, homegrown Indian brands like VOOT kids, Hungama Kids, Zee5 Kids are fighting for a share of the market. In the field of kid’s education, owing to shut down and indefinite closure of schools, a Bobble.AI report states that edutech platforms such as Udemy, Unacademy and Byjus, which have posted an 82.73% increase in time spent, along with a 122.62% increase in engagement and 25.12% increase in DAU’s.

6. Corporate Learning Management Solution: At a time when physically attending training is a distant idea, organizations can meet their learning objectives by incorporating a corporate e-learning solution. In this era of Netflix and YouTube, an efficient Learning Management Solution empowers employees with the flexibility to access training at their own will and pace. With features like advanced search and filtering, employees can search and consume relevant materials whenever needed. In addition to the flexibility to learn, gamification in such solutions helps in higher engagement levels and can even help in improving overall retention too.

7. Online gaming is a new frontier: Gaming apps topped the new downloads category on both Android and iOS phones in Q1 of 2020. Especially around the younger population and the conducive environment, gaming could emerge to be a major beneficiary of the overall digital ecosystem. Media companies and OTT providers especially can look at adding gaming as a potent extension to their ecosystem offerings.

8. Demand for OTT in Health & Fitness: Video streaming platforms having got an opportunity to expand their offerings into genres like health & fitness have entered into strategic alliances to cater to the increased demand and emerging audience segments. According to a Bobble AI - The Conversation Media Platform report, besides video conferencing apps, and websites, fitness applications such as Lose Weight,, recorded a 104.53% rise in daily active users (DAUs) with engagement rate increasing by 14.72% and time spent on the app increasing by 39.50%.

9. Redefining Sports via OTT: The disruption of sports broadcasting due to Covid-19 has led to significant erosion of revenue for operators and Pay-TV providers. Yet at a time, when social distancing norms have disrupted live sports, Star & Disney India in the form of Disney+Hotstar VIP have given great joy to a cricket crazy nation.

It is true that OTT platforms have helped keep the sanity intact in these difficult times by being a major source of entertainment. By imbibing new age technology in all aspects of the subscriber lifecycle, OTT providers can prevent subscriber churn and offer a great quality of experience to customers.

OTT platforms in India are growing rapidly in terms of subscribership mainly due to a number of factors. Digital India plays a major role in promoting the use of OTT platforms to stream diverse content from all over the world. A youth oriented population has led to the increase in the viewership of OTT platforms such as Netflix, YouTube, etc. The drop in prices of smartphones and cellular data has enabled a large chunk of the population to gain access to online platforms.India currently has about 220-250 million smartphone users which is expected to hit 500 million by 2020.

OTT platforms’ business model would blanket subscribership with sponsored content. Their revenue would be mainly generated from advertisements. “Netflix is positioning itself as to how in terms of video content Netflix is the thing to do. Others are using content marketing strategy to show their exclusive content as differentiator against others. But they end up looking similar to each other. Netflix and Amazon are standouts as they know how to market themselves and are able to bring in content outside TV. Hotstar is riding on cricket in a big way.” Rajiv Dingra, Founder-CEO, WAT Consult. 

There are 30+ OTT players in India in different languages targeting different audiences depending on what content they roll out. 40% of viewership on OTT platforms is mainly regional content. 

OTT Demographics in India

Here are a few more facts about the OTT platforms in India and their demographics:

The target group of major OTT platforms should ideally be  “millennials” or the age group of 18-35 years. This number, however, is largely contrasting due to the Digital India campaign, increasing number of smartphone and data users and is also an effect of globalization which has led the population to be more aware. With major data service providers like Jio bringing down data costs, there has been a significant shift in viewership in India with the number of Indian users growing at the rate of 4-8%.. This essentially means that there is massive potential for rural India to subscribe to such platforms on a large scale – making rural India also a target group for platforms.  

In 2017, OTT platforms in India generated Rs. 2019 crore, this is expected to increase to Rs. 5595 crore by 2022. Digital streaming platforms overtook film entertainment to rank the third-largest Indian Media & Entertainment sector in 2019, according to the latest EY-FICCI Indian Media & Entertainment Report.

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