After its stupendous rise in 2020, OTT services in India are all set to take the best part of 2021 by storm as well. The key factors such as better internet connectivity, inexpensive data plans and price reduction in smartphones will further take forward the popularity of the latest OTT platforms this year.
People have now started experimenting with watching content on different genres across different OTT platforms. Today, a lot of the user base has more time to spare and has started spending it on digital platforms. The situation is shifting to the time where people are again forced to spend most of their time at home, hence, a further boom in the OTT market is expected in the coming days.
Reports from E&Y and FICCI predict that the number of paid subscribers will be around 30 to 35 million for the year 2021. PwC predicts that the media and entertainment sector will experience more than 10% CAGR every year till 2024. OTT being a segment of this sector will be the highest growth contributor.
So, what is keeping the OTT popularity so strong even in the year 2021? Emerging trends, quality content, improved streaming services, better subscription plans, all-out marketing etc.; there are so many factors that are conducive to the growth of the same. Let us take a look at some of the emerging disruptive trends for the consumer-centric OTT sector in the year 2021.
Regional content is all set to rule in the coming year. Affordable data traffics have aided the growth of regional content by enabling internet penetration even in rural areas. Today every household has at least one or more smartphones. This resultant internet revolution has affected people across geography, demographics, economic and social segments.
Internet accessibility has increased, thereby making OTT services in India shell their urban elitism and adopt means of providing mass entertainment. Resultantly, regional content upscaling and disruption that commenced in the year 2020 is expected to peak in 2021.
To stay in the game OTT services in India will have to up their game by introducing diverse regional content. This will also make them stay relevant, build affinities and cater to the differentiated entertainment demands of the consumers.
Synergetic Relationship between OTT & Smart TV
If Smartphones enabled regional penetration; smart TVs gave the urban audience a chance to seek a cinematic experience right from the comforts of their homes.
Technological advances in the picture and sound quality coupled with a reduction in the price of Smart TVs and a rise in disposable income has made the Smart TV a staple in almost every middle-class home in India.
The ability of these TVs to stream OTT content enabled the Indian urban household to get an immersive OTT viewing experience; something that the smartphone lacked.
To capitalize on this trend, many telecom operators and ISPs are also bundling OTT services as part of their offerings. This has led to the emergence of the CTV or “Connected TV” with Roku, Amazon Firestick, Xbox, AppleTV etc., leading this trend.
Additionally, the incorporation of smart features like voice searches and voice navigation, the use of AI and BigData for easy content discovery etc., are all contributing to enhancing the end-user experience. The incorporation of Google Assistant in Android 4K TVs is an apt example of the same.
Currently, trends predict that voice-assisted searches will also help bridge the prevalent urban-rural divide thereby increasing the need for streaming diversified content on OTT platforms.
This seamless integration that has resulted in a synergetic relationship between the OTT and Smart TV is emerging as a critical factor for sustaining the success of the OTT popularity.
This will enable consumers to gain significant value in terms of usability, device compatibility and affordability. The idea is to offer bundled OTTs with different platforms at lucrative discounted rates coupled with a single sign-on and viewing on multiple devices.
Since SVOD revenues are predicted to rise with an increase in the subscriber base, app aggregation will begin to play a critical role in OTT market expansion. It will prove to be counter-productive. Penetration will increase leading to the easy adoption of a premium offering. This will further help to build a base that will lure subscribers thereby converting them into pay-buckets.
OTT Monetization Model Innovation
As per Apester’s global survey reports, 60.1% of subscribers are already feeling the effects of subscription fatigue. The need to subscribe to different OTT services is expected to generate disinterest among consumers. To overcome this, OTT services in India are looking at other innovative monetization models like pay-per-view, AVOD etc., as alternatives to SVOD.
With the trend to create channels by bundling subscription packages together already being implemented, its popularity is expected to expand in the coming months.
Emergence of New OTT Players
Tectonic shifts are already visible in the OTT market. Major players like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar etc. will continue their dominance in 2021. But this year will also see a host of new OTT players coming into the picture.
With each player trying to establish themselves by offering something exclusive either by way of monetization models, genre-specific content, localized content etc., it will be interesting to see how the local markets respond to the same.
A rise in the number of OTT players will also see competition rise in the other aspects associated with it. Mainstream advertising will see immense competition from OTT advertising as there will be a substantial increase in OTT advertising revenue resulting from an increased subscriber base.
Trends predict that by the end of the year 2021, OTT advertising will enter mainstream advertising in a big way thereby enabling OTT players to capitalize it and offer more AVOD content.
5G: The Technology of the Future
With 5G roll out plans slated to commence this year, urban content viewing will experience a dramatic change. Internet speeds will become faster and more reliable and latency will decrease substantially. Video streaming will gain immensely with subscribers willing to pay extra to gain good quality, buffering-free experience.
However, this technology will still be in its nascent stages and ISPs will have to provide a fall-back factor by way of 4G. Still, it will be interesting to see how the advent of this gen-next cellular network technology will impact the popularity of OTT services.
When it comes to predicting trends for 2021, OTT services in India are finally on their path to maturity. The catalytic growth experienced due to the pandemic last year has given rise to interesting OTT trends some of which are mentioned above. It will be interesting to see how these unfold in the upcoming months of the year 2021.
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