India’s digitisation boom has led to the advent of multiple Over-The-Top (OTT) media service platforms to surface in the country. Television is struggling with millennials increasingly shifting to OTT where they can view their favourite shows at their convenience. India’s video-on-demand market is likely to grow to $5 billion by 2023 from $500 million last year. The advent of Reliance Jio and the subsequent significant price reduction in the Telecom industry has led to an abundance of data at low costs to the Indian consumer. The entry of OTT platforms, all from Netflix to Zee5 and Microsoft, has the potential to transform the Media and Entertainment industry the same way Jio did for the Telecom industry.
The likes of Amazon, Disney, Sony, Microsoft and Netflix are all betting big on India with Apple soon to enter the Indian OTT market with its Apple TV+ later this year. Disney’s Hotstar has managed to captivate the Indian audience by gauging the pulse of the nation. It spent huge capital on cricket and got the Indian audience hooked to the platform as it initially offered its services for free. While the audience was hooked to cricket, Hotstar was simultaneously getting top-rated International shows on its platform. Sony with its SonyLiv application has decided to bet big on Football which is increasingly gaining popularity in India. Amazon Prime was perhaps the first entrant which completely disrupted the OTT industry with a plethora of content and initially, its membership was available at just Rs 500/year. Netflix is looking at conquering India with its subscriber base dropping in the US and Canada and with over 150 million subscribers worldwide, is comfortably the biggest name in the OTT industry.
Netflix with its range of offerings and unbeatable technology hoped to penetrate the Indian market with little difficulty but the company has struggled to increase its user-base as stiff competition from local players like Zee5 and AltBalaji is giving Netflix a run for its money.
Netflix with its plans starting from Rs 499/month is the costliest of all the OTT players in India and the cut-throat competition has forced the company to cater to the price-sensitive Indian consumers and hence, the platform has introduced and has launched a cheaper mobile-only plan price at Rs 199/month. This is a brilliant move because Indians spent 38% of their time and 70% of their data on mobile phones for entertainment, of which watching videos was the second most popular activity after browsing social media networks, according to a FICCI report.
More new players entering the OTT market with bigger capital will cause disruptions, spark cut-throat competition and drop prices of OTT services making other TV services defunct.
Understanding of the Indian market is a necessity for any new entrant given India’s unique diversity and Apple with its Apple TV+ is planning to undercut its competitors with a Rs 99/month plan which is going to be launched in November. Indian families will never have multiple accounts of the same platform and keeping this fact in mind, Apple TV+ will also come with ‘Family Sharing’ at no extra charge, allowing access to a total of six individuals. Such brilliant perks, which disrupt this raging market, and drive competition to the ceiling, all bring greater benefit to the consumer and Indian consumers are in for an enjoyable ride.
Prices are getting more and more reasonable for the Indian consumer, and there is a rising consensus towards buying content. Indians don’t mind spending big on Bollywood movies as evident by the first-week collection of major Bollywood releases of 2019. This fact has led to a consolidated focus on creating Indian originals by the major OTT platforms. Netflix is aiming to release one major Indian TV series /Movie every month and has recently announced a plethora of Indian movies and TV series and have associated with the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Anushka Sharma and Karan Johar to produce content and have also acquired the rights of ‘Drive’ – a movie starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Jacqueline Fernandez which will be a Netflix only release. Amazon Prime and Hotstar continue to come up with Indian shows which with ‘Made in Heaven’, ‘Laakhon Mein Ek’, ‘Hostages’ and “Hear the Roar’ attracting audiences by the heap for the platforms. The OTT platforms are also now going regional with Amazon’s Alexa available in Hindi and ErosNow is collaborating with Microsoft to use its cloud platform Azure to build new features including in-app video search in 10 Indian languages and a personalised recommendation engine for viewers of Eros Now. ErosNow is planning to create a multi-linguistic platform which will drive competition out of the roof, making inroads into markets that mostly rely on other modes of TV for content.
The presence of multiple platforms has resulted in Netflix not enjoying a monopoly as it had intended to, with the likes of Hotstar and Amazon Prime enjoying a wider consumer base. The disruptive entries of Microsoft, Apple TV+ and the presence of local platforms like Zee5, AltBalaji and ErosNow is all set to revolutionise the OTT market with great content available at low prices, which will effectively spell the death sentence for TV.