Video-streaming services kept the entertainment quotient up in times of COVID-19, leading to a steady increase in the number of over-the-top (OTT) subscriptions.
More Indians subscribed to subscription video on-demand services (SVOD) during the pandemic than ever before. No surprises here.
In 2020, the number of subscriptions for video on-demand platforms reached 57 million, according to a report by Media Partners Asia (MPA), an independent provider of research, advisory and consulting services across the media and telecom sectors in Asia-Pacific.
While the Coronavirus-led lockdown hit the production of web series, films and TV shows this year and the last, new OTT SVOD subscriptions continue to remain strong despite content supply bottlenecks.
The report expects that, by the end of this year, the number of video OTT subscriptions will reach 89 million.
In the SVOD market, Disney+Hotstar takes the lead. The report noted that Disney+ Hotstar will continue to lead in paying customers with an estimated 46 million subscribers by end of 2021. Currently, the platform has 35 million subscribers.
In addition, Disney+ Hotstar along with other OTTs like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix command 80 percent market share of subscribers and revenues.
It is estimated that SVOD platforms in India including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, ZEE5, ALT Balaji have around 4.6 million, 18 million, 1.8 million and 1.7 million paid subscribers, respectively.
And Amazon Prime Video and Netflix's subscribers is estimated to increase to 21.8 million and 5.5 million subscribers by end of 2021.
Overall, MPA expects that direct-to-consumer (D2C) SVOD subscriptions will grow to 193 million by 2026. SVOD revenues are expected to grow from $0.8 billion in 2021 to $1.8 billion by 2026.
What is interesting is that these OTTs will invest more in content, offering more binge-worthy shows and movies to their viewers.
Content is king
The report said that key players will continue to invest in local content while leveraging sports, movies and aggressive consumer pricing to drive growth.
While Disney+Hotstar will have a sports-heavy calendar, thanks to the Indian Premier League (IPL), Amazon Prime Video will bank on regional content. As for Netflix, it has planned 41 original releases in 2021.
MPA expects the video OTT market to invest $1 billion in content in 2021. In this, acquired and commissioned local originals account for 30 percent. This share will increase to 40-45 percent in the future.
What to watch out for?
Along with the focus on content, existing players in the Indian market will have to watch out for new D2C SVOD global entrants from 2022 onwards. They include potential services from HBO and Comcast.
In addition, next year, there will be battle for premium cricket rights, starting with IPL. Platforms like Disney+Hotstar, Amazon, Facebook, Jio and Sony will be jockeying for pole position, the report said.