By Rajiv Vaidya, CEO Spuul India
In the past few years, the Video-On-Demand (VOD) landscape has experienced a dramatic change. From being a new buzzword to now being a norm, VOD is dominating the media and entertainment industry.
VOD is set to get bigger and better as consumers become increasingly geared towards an on-demand lifestyle.
With an array of services that have cropped up to fulfil our every need, consumers seek instant gratification in every arena. VOD is expected to comprise 80 percent of total internet usage by 2019, indicating that viewers will shift from traditional mediums like cable and satellite.
Industry estimates peg India’s VOD market in terms of value at nearly Rs 1,400 crore.
Furthermore, according to the FICCI-KPMG report cited earlier, with on-demand accessibility and aggressively priced high-speed cellular data services, online video-on-demand services will continue to see an upsurge.
Linear TV + VOD
TV viewership is eventually moving away from live TV to on-demand video.
According to a study titled The OTT Co-viewing experience: 2017, 93 percent of people co-view on TV through platforms such as OTT, linear TV, VOD & DVR. This is followed by computer at 55 percent, smartphones at 49 percent and tablet at 39 percent.
What this essentially means is that television, as we understand it, will change from push to pull TV. Increasingly, the consumer will be in control of what he wants to watch, when, where and on what device.
The biggest enabler of this will be technology, that is, the pipe. Earlier, broadcasters curated content and delivered it via cable or satellite and dictated what you watched when.
Now content is stored in a server and technically you can pick what you want at a time convenient to you.
Streaming TV has in fact caught up significantly with linear TV viewing. This trend will continue to grow in 2018.
Smartphone penetration & cheaper data
Data prices have significantly reduced in India over the past few years; particularly after the launch of Jio’s 4G services in 2016.
This was followed by an aggressive price-war among telecom companies and as a result, consumers started using much more data. Where 1GB of data costed USD 4.4 in March 2014, with the entry of Jio, the rates went down to as low as USD 0.17 per GB in 2017.
The steep drop in prices has also led to more users coming online.
According to IAMAI, India has more than 460 million Internet users with access to the cheapest data.
The report emphasizes on the fact that 52 percent of internet users from rural areas access the internet for the prime purpose of entertainment, followed by 39 percent for social media and 37 percent for communication.
The declining prices of smartphones as well as the increase in the size of the smartphone screen have ensured that mobile is fast becoming the screen of choice for media consumption.
The FICCI-KPMG report says that mobile video traffic will grow 11.5 times in the next five years, at a compounded annual growth rate of 63 per cent. What’s more, the number of video-capable devices and connections in India will grow 2.2 times in the next five years, crossing 800 million in number.
So here’s to more streaming your favorite movies & shows online.
Localization of global content
Now, offering local and regional content in India through both licensing it from local content providers and also producing it in-house is high priority.
Global trends indicate that though consumers want to be seen as being global, consumption patterns and tastes tend to be largely local.
Given the Indian market size and competition, each player would need to determine how they interplay foreign content with creation and delivery of local content to be able to have a meaningful share of the OTT market. VOD players will continue to strengthen their focus on local and regional offerings so 2018 will see more of local content delivered by your favorite VOD player.
Unlike in the U.S. where many people have cut the cord and replaced cable television with an OTT service, in India the two will co-exist, at least for a few more years if not more.
You can get a basic cable television package here at USD 3 a month, and no one is going to cut that off.
A couple of years ago, we talked about why Indians aren't cord-cutters yet. Some of the issues that we pointed out at the time included the lack of reliable Internet connectivity, the high cost of Internet access, and a shortage of content to access. But with these situations now changing, 2018 will see a rise in cord cutters, and if not that, the average time spent on television will decline dramatically.
Demand for entertainment in vernacular languages
As people of Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns and rural areas enter the digital fold, the demand for entertainment in vernacular languages too will come about.
Given that 78 percent of Indians prefer to watch videos in their native languages, VOD players will work towards offering their viewers a multi-genre and multi-language content catalogue.
Increase in original local content
Increase in affordable Indian language enabled smartphones will only contribute to increasing user-generated original content online but also multi-language content catalogue to cater to their needs.
Rise in advertisements in local languages
Indian language users have a higher propensity to respond to advertisements in one's local language, resulting in the increase in the share of local language ads in the digital medium.
Therefore, there will even be an increase in the local language content promotion in that language.
The truth of the matter is the web’s increasing reach and improving internet speeds have already weaned viewers off the traditional television sets to a great degree.
Viewers are fast lapping up the opportunity to consume content online which offers ample of choices such as regional content, global content in the local language and movies that have just been displayed at a cinema hall nearby.
These factors and the fact content accessible on a device of a consumer’s choice has led a burst of VOD scene in India which will take a whole new turn in 2018.(The author is CEO of Spuul India. Views are personal.)