The Indian entertainment scene is witnessing a seismic change with 30 over-the-top (OTT) platforms vying for space as players look to differentiate themselves, says a new report, adding that players like Netflix and Amazon Prime now need to create more desi content to bring more users to their platforms.
Massive capital commitments have been made by platforms for building libraries of diverse original content over the last couple of years for the Indian audience.
According to the KPMG report titled “India’s Digital Future: Mass of niches”, OTT services attract a more individualistic audience compared to the family viewers in a country dominated by single TV households.
“Hence, the content on these platforms needs to appeal to different consumer sensibilities and have an element of freshness. While OTT players can attract their chosen target audience for sampling content with a few originals that appeal to them, depth in such digital-native original content becomes vital to ensure consumer stickiness in the long run,” the findings showed.
Indian language internet users are expected to grow to 536 million by 2021 from 234 million in 2016.
As nine out of 10 new Internet users in India are likely to be Indian language users, it is vital for OTT players to cater to this audience in their native language.
The OTT platforms have started to focus on building a library of regional content that includes movies and originals over the past 12-18 months.
Most of the video-on-demand (VOD) platforms have content offerings in regional languages. But such content has been restricted to select movies along with a handful of original shows, if any.
“However, dubbing has emerged as an effective tool for players to quickly expand the breadth of original and movie content available across multiple regional languages like Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, and Marathi,” the report noted.
For example, Prime Video has dubbed popular Hindi originals like “Inside Edge” and “Breathe” to Tamil and Telugu.
In addition to originals, Prime Video has also tried to increase depth in their regional library by dubbing English movies like “Alpa”, “Rampage”, etc. to Tamil and Telugu.
Similarly, Hotstar has used dubbing to launch the Hindi web-series “Criminal Justice” in six regional languages – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bangla, Malayalam and Marathi.
“OTT players like Netflix and Amazon prime have started hiring writers to add contextual flavour to dialogues in English in addition to launching regional web series,” said the report.
Much of the video viewing in India is happening in a local language and YouTube, which has 265 million unique, active users has reported that over 95 per cent of its users watched videos in a regional language.
Many OTT players are also investing in building their regional content libraries to match the demand from these audiences, the report mentioned.
Telco partnerships have also emerged as an important source of subscription/syndication revenue for the OTT platforms, with a significant 30-35 per cent contribution to the overall subscription revenues in FY19.
Platforms like ALT Balaji, Eros Now etc. are examples of players who have substantial revenue contribution coming from telco distribution.
Some players have also forged partnership among themselves to mutually benefit each other and also with social media platforms (such as Facebook) to broadcast their content. For example, ‘Arre’ has partnered with ï¿½Sony Liv’, ï¿½Yupp TV’ and ï¿½Facebook’ for content
“While majority of the players have started to offer shorter duration packs (weekly and monthly), some players are also bundling regional / international content separately to cater to different viewer segments.
In order to cater to a wider user base in India, some players are also experimenting with cash payments, thew report noted.
Long-form content has grown with players like Netflix, Prime Video, Zee5 and Alt Balaji focusing on creating originals with episodes ranging from 20 to 60 minutes.
Short form content is highly popular on social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, etc.
“Short form is also receiving due attention from OTT platforms like Eros Now and Hoichoi who are building their short form content libraries with short stories, comedies, interviews, etc,” said the KPMG report.
On the other hand, OTT players have been reducing the cost of their subscription through introduction of basic, affordable packs.
For example, Hotstar launched its low-cost subscription pack in the form of ï¿½Hotstar VIP’, whereas Netflix introduced ï¿½mobile only’ plans which are 50 per cent cheaper than its basic plan.
These cost-reduction initiatives by the OTT players has resulted in some parity being achieved when it comes to TV pack vs. OTT pricing.