Rise of streaming services in india
There has been a definitive surge in Indians taking new subscriptions of various content streaming services and according to a new survey that came out on Wednesday, more than 75 percent of Indians have purchased new subscriptions for over-the-top (OTT) platforms during the lockdown period.
The survey from market research and analysis firm Velocity MR with a small sample size of 3,000 respondents found that 73 percent people started watching Hotstar and YouTube, while Amazon Prime and Netflix saw an increase in subscription with 67 percent and 65 percent, respectively.
THE PLOT SO FAR
Going into a detailed history of the rise of OTT and streaming services in India, and the main driving factors, deserve its own article. While there were some OTT platforms and services before, the entry of major international names like Netflix & Amazon Prime Video worked as a shot in the arm for the sector.
Fast forward a couple of years to 2019, and you have about 30-odd streaming services available, independent as well as backed by existing media companies, each with its ‘unique’ offering vying for your attention.
Established players like Netflix and Prime Video are investing in original local content, whereas newer entrants like Apple TV and Flipkart Videos are going all out to cut a slice of the user-base pie. A PWC report predicts that the industry in India will be worth nearly `12000 crores by 2023.
THE ENDLESS CATALOGUE PHENOMENON
Streaming services are a prime example of “the more the merrier” not holding true for everything. While a larger, exhaustive catalogue of content might seem great to begin with, it makes it even more difficult to choose something new to watch.
Now, with a large number of streaming platforms offering everything from movies, shows, catch-up TV, live sports and events, regional content and more, the choice is even harder.
Fortunately, some content providers are addressing this with technology. Netflix’s content recommendation system is well-known, and even well-explained by themselves. It takes into account myriad factors to ensure that a highly optimised selection of content is first presented to you as you log in. They’ve even gone as far as showing different people different thumbnail art for the same show based on their behaviour.
THE PRICE POINT
Pricing in the Indian market works differently. Quite a few international subscription-based services have significantly altered their pricing to be more appealing in the Indian market. Additionally, while ad-supported video streaming is only just picking up in the US, it has always been significant in India – just look at Hotstar’s growth to more than 300 million users since its 2014 launch. This has led to players, both international and regional, to think twice before launching expensive plans here.
CUTTING THE STREAM
As discussed above, pricing in India is being addressed by streaming services in various ways. However, what they cannot get around is content exclusivity. According to Vidooly’s recent survey on the OTT industry, about 26 percent of subscribers use OTT to avoid the fear of missing out on good shows.
However, the top reason for subscription on the same survey is cheaper subscription plans. Increasing content exclusivity between newer streaming services is going to make that irrelevant, as to catch all the good shows, important matches and must-watch movies, the total subscription cost is going to be too high.
As of now, newer players attempt to get around this through various strategies like free trials, bundled-services with telecom providers, preloaded apps on DTH boxes and more. However, as free trials are exhausted and the time to make revenue approaches, many services will have to swallow the bitter pill and raise subscription costs – the biggest factor behind people unsubscribing today.
As we’ve seen with any overcrowded industry segment, consolidation is inevitable with streaming services in India. With the possible Disney+ launch in India, users will have even more to choose from and might end up not choosing at all. The industry reshapes itself to be more accessible, both in terms of pricing and ease-of-discovery. Even after that, it might just be a case of ‘too-many-bills’ to keep track of, unless someone can come up with a service that aggregates the content from all platforms you’re subscribed to.