India is a complex market, especially when it comes to paying for entertainment. Digital content consumption is rising fast, thanks to easy access to the internet-enabled by cheap mobile data. Entertainment content consumption behavior of Indians has definitely changed during the Doordarshan to Direct-to-Home transition. But, the emergence and expansion of OTT platforms are changing the entertainment landscape, and the tectonic shift is definitely not smooth. Several existing television channels have already forayed into the OTT space; it would be interesting to watch how these players compete with giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
India with over 130 billion population with over 60% in the young age group with the limited option of entertainment avenues is a very attractive market for both content creators and distributors. The presence of several digital content distribution platforms with high-quality highly diversified content with the freedom to watch anywhere anytime is a great option for millions of viewers looking for change and control. The change in content consumption behavior is bound to disrupt existing content delivery platforms, forcing them either to evolve or go extinct. Ramayana of 1987 was a great hit, but compare it with Squid Game of 2021, and you will feel the shift, both in terms of consumption behavior and of course the sense of control, quality, and the range.
Undeniable Signs of Shift
The shift is affecting not only content creators and distributors but all players involved in entertainment-allied activities, like branding and marketing. In 2021 alone, the minutes of content consumed on OTT platforms increased from 181 billion to 204 billion, the Consultancy.in data says. It is not about deniability of the tectonic shift happening at the moment, but about finding trigger factors that led to the exponential rise of OTT platforms, especially in India where content consumption behavior is highly diverse regionally and socially. The Satta Matka team of Betway explores all possible angles affecting the entertainment landscape, especially post OTT arrival.
The fast expansion of digital infrastructure is an obvious game-changer for OTT platforms, but the ongoing pandemic made it a situational fit, especially for 15-35 age groups. According to the Centre for Media and Entertainment Studies (CMES) of MICA, the trend is likely to continue in the future with a user base projected to expand to 500 million from the current 350 million. Currently, Disney+ Hotstar is at the top with 43 million subscribers followed by Amazon Prime with 17 million and Netflix with 5 million subscribers.
Although the average age of OTT paid subscribers is 35-44 years, the popularity is more among males than females. Going by the venture capitalists’ investment trend in OTT platforms, the focus will shift towards creating female-centric content to expand the base.
The smartphone has revolutionized the way people spend quality time, as it offers access to the internet, personalization, freedom of mobility, and control. The OTT apps with highly rich content fit perfectly with the evolving user behavior. Your mobile has high-speed Internet connectivity, and you have access to highly diverse content matching your taste and mood. It is a fact that the popularity of OTT platforms is more among the urban populace, but this rural-urban gap will reduce with the expansion of high-speed internet and the availability of content in regional languages. Platforms like Hotstar and SonyLiv are catching fast in regional space, but there is a huge potential out there to capitalize. Almost all big broadcasters have launched their platforms eying the regional content consumption market. Thankfully, content creators are now producing highly entertaining world-class content. The era of making formula movies and releasing them in theaters is over, as viewers do not have access to high-quality highly diverse content available easily on OTT platforms, that too on a mobile device.
There are traditional marketers, who believe you can ask for the time of an Indian but not the money, at least for watching entertaining content. It is a reality, but not of the present time. People are more than ready to pay for quality content, and revenue data of top OTT platforms suggests it is just a matter of the right package for the majority of viewers. Eyeing the vast potential of the Indian entertainment market, Netflix is offering INR 199 monthly plan for mobile users and other players are doing everything possible to capture and retain the user base. OTT platforms have to think and offer something as it would be a big challenge for an average middle-class family to pay for 5-6 different OTT platforms monthly.
It is Just a Beginning
The diversity of India leaves enough room for almost every existing OTT player and for those planning to launch something in space beyond entertainment. So, it is just a beginning for OTT platforms and unfortunately a slow death for traditional content creators and delivery platforms. Challenges are there, in terms of market penetration, paying capacity, platform multiplicity, censorship, and of course the ever-changing consumer behavior.
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