From international players such as Netflix to local platforms including Hotstar, Spuul, Hooq, Eros Now, Ditto TV and Voot amongst several others, the video over-the-top (OTT) market in the country has gotten crowded even before it could take off in a meaningful way even as there are more players, such as Balaji Telefilm’s ALT and Amazon Prime, planning to enter the market soon.
Some of these platforms are owned by broadcast networks whereas others are standalone operators. For instance, Hotstar, Ditto TV, Ogle and Voot are owned by Star India, Sony Pictures, Zee Entertainment and Viacom18, respectively.
Irrespective of their parentage, good content remains the first priority for all these operators. Content is king is the principle even the legacy companies were guided by. Platforms owned by broadcasters have an edge in the game because of their access to ready-to-use content which sometimes can be used as is or repurposed for a second run. The standalone players, whereas, are having to create content from a scratch, which means a lot more investments.
In terms of formats, all the players are making a lot of experiments from offering podcasts, reality shows, written stories as well as web series.
Besides content, the other aspect that this new lot is assiduously working towards is creating a subscription-based revenue model. Unlike broadcast business where gathering eyeballs at the cost of subscriptions was how the game was played in the initial years, OTT players seem clear that subscriptions-based model is the way forward as against giving viewers free content.
It is a wise move as this will ensure less pain as the industry matures. Broadcast networks in the country had had to struggle hard to make subscriptions a dependable option. Indeed, raising subscriptions will require OTT players to have differentiated content in a largely commoditized business, yet, with advertising pie constantly getting sliced among so many stakeholders in the digital world, building alternative revenue models is critical.
Pricing will be an important factor in wooing audiences. Indeed, those offering content at lower price points will have to ramp up volumes whereas those with premium content can command premium pricing.
Even as the business models get created and content strategies devised, a big question that remains is whether the Indian market is ready for so many players who already have access to several options to keep them entertained.
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