Today, there is a lot of talk about OTT services in India. The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have acted like a catalyst propelling an already booming medium of entertainment to even greater heights.
Before the COVID 19-induced lockdown, OTT had already overtaken film entertainment to attain the position of the 3rd largest Media and Entertainment sector in India for the year 2019, only behind television and print media.
Post the COVID-19 lockdown, several factors proved to be a boon for this sector of the entertainment industry. Theatre halls and multiplexes have been shut down completely for an indefinite period. People have been forced to stay indoors and maintain social distancing. Doing just about everything from home had become the new normal, thus, leading to an unprecedented situation wherein:
- People had ample time for family entertainment
- Producers were forced to delay the release of their films, thereby staring in the face of huge losses.
This situation resulted in a complete overhaul, and there was a change in the dynamics of OTT services in India.
Current Post Lockdown Scenario
CAGR predicts a 25% to 30% growth in this digital entertainment medium. The digital revolution is currently at its peak and is expected to grow in leaps and bounds. Certain factors influenced this turn-around in OTT streaming like:
Compared to the Theatres and Cinema Halls, This is an Inexpensive Medium
OTT services follow two different models of streaming. One is the ad-supported free service that every person can watch for free, and the other is the subscription model wherein viewers pay to gain viewing rights to exclusive programs and new-released films.
This payment can be made on a monthly, quarterly or an annual basis. People watching OTT programs free of cost also get to watch diversified and new content, but the range that is available in the paid subscriptions is yet superlative.
Availability of Inexpensive Internet Packages
India has opened its arms to the concept of content on-the-go. This means that viewers can watch their favourite web series, sports, news etc., as and when they want and from whichever location they are currently based. This easy access to the internet was further enhanced by:
- Easy availability of smartphones
- Inexpensive unlimited data packages by service providers
- Some OTT services in India such as Amazon Prime Video, Eros Now are tying up with service providers to provide OTT streaming for free for a specific time period.
Changes in OTT Services in Post Lockdown India
Reduced data costs coupled with the bundling of content with data has changed the OTT scene in the post lockdown period.
Also Read: What is OTT & What is it’s Future in India?
Extension of the Reach of the Internet
The efforts to digitise India had started some time ago. Consequently today, even villages situated in the remotest regions of the country might not have the basic amenities but the internet is slowly making in-roads there as well. The mode of entertainment also underwent a change which again worked in favour of digital entertainment.
Original and Diverse Content
India has already been witness to a television viewership spike a few years back. Initially providing wholesome entertainment with its rich and varied content, today, television programs are ruled by TRPs. Programmes have now become repetitive and mundane. In such a scenario, OTT services in India, with their bouquet of new, original, diversified, thought-provoking, almost unlimited and rich content, seemed like a breath of fresh air. This brought a gradual but definite shift in consumer viewing habits. The fact that even the youth could relate to this content further accelerated this transformation.
Increase in Sales of Smartphones and Smart TVs
The race to capture the consumer durable market by the electronics companies has proved to be a boon for the consumers and the digital industry alike. Today, smartphones and smart TVs have become more affordable than they were before. The different gadgets are so placed that there is something for everybody. Consequently, the availability of these OTT streaming gadgets has made it possible for OTT to reach even the remotest corners of India.
There is a change in the way OTT services in India were previously perceived and how they are perceived now. Pre lockdown OTT was considered to be a platform that provided entertainment only for smartphone users. But now with the massive spike in popularity witnessed in the post lockdown period, it is evident that it is a universal platform wherein users view OTT streamed content even on their smart TVs.
Earlier, in the pre-lockdown period, OTT acceptance was based on the available free content. Very few people opted for paid subscriptions. But the change in social norms during the lockdown prompted people to gravitate towards OTT streamed content.
Television programs came to a standstill as all shootings of serials and documentaries, films etc. stopped. OTT gained ground by providing a rich library of content that was new for most people. Thus there was a natural tendency of people to opt for paid subscriptions so that there was a non-stop supply of new content to fill the lacunae caused by the chanced social norms. Statistically, it has been surveyed that about 75% of Indians or more have opted for paid OTT subscriptions in the post lockdown period.
This shift towards OTT services in India has seen a particularly high rise in the number of OTT streaming services available. Today, post lockdown figures of the same as in June-end 2020 stood at 60. This is quite a hike from the 36 OTT platforms available in the year 2017. With every new entrant, competition increases. Another important factor quite evident was the hike in the popularity of regional OTT streaming platforms. This is a direct fallout of the diversity of language, culture, tradition etc. that forms the core of India.
Lastly, OTT business was always dependent on the creation of content and its processing, storage and subsequent retrieval, distribution and management. Today, in the post lockdown times, some other table stakes have been added, such as monetisation and value addition. Thus offerings have changed to include content such as interactive in-live television, gamification engines, real-time polls etc.
In conclusion, it can be said that OTT services in India have experienced an acceleration in the services existing in the pre-lockdown period. Swift growth in advanced technology of the cellular networks like 5G is also a contributing factor which has catapulted OTT services in the post lockdown era.