5 live TV apps taking Indian content far and wideSohini Mitter
Entertainment and sports live-streaming is finally booming in India. Here’s looking at the most holistic app offerings.
Last year saw an explosion in the online video-streaming space in India. As mobile internet became more accessible and affordable, Indians across urban and rural centres took to watching online videos by the hordes.
IMRB, in a joint report with Kantar Media, estimates that India’s mobile video consumption will reach a massive 7GB per month per user by 2021. There are about 25 million over-the-top (OTT) users right now, and the average amount spent in a month for paid content is Rs 255. The market for OTT subscription is estimated to grow to Rs 4,000 crore by 2020.
Hotstar, India’s leading video-streaming service by users, in another independent report reveals that online video consumption grew five times in 2017, with long-form videos of more than 20 minutes accounting for 96 percent of the content consumed. As audiences were freed of concerns surrounding data charges, they were wont to watch full episodes online.
With a mix of global and homegrown video-streaming apps along with YouTube, which still accounts for maximum video-viewing time in India, audiences are spoilt for choice. There are umpteen apps that serve them the world of entertainment on a platter. But, viewers are governed by their individual tastes.
While the urban millennial population might vouch for the Amazon Primes and Netflixs of the world, there are millions who just want to watch their regular television shows online, and on the move. Live TV, thus, is becoming a thing in India, with more and more channels and producers streaming their content in real-time.
YourStory lists India’s top 5 live TV apps (in no particular order).
Hotstar started it all during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. It wasn’t a glitch-free experience to begin with, but it heralded a new era of entertainment consumption in India. Sports was, and still is, a big driver of Hotstar’s popularity. It has even launched a dedicated sports subscription pack for users who do not see value in general entertainment content. Besides that, it houses all the content from Star India’s 22-channel multi-language network. Paid subscribers can stream live TV shows (sports, entertainment, news) in real-time without lags. According to App Annie, Hotstar has over 48 million monthly active users. The only restricting factor for it is it houses only Star network’s content. Hence, viewers of other channels might not find it compelling enough.
JioTV is one of India’s fastest-growing apps across categories. It won the ‘Best Mobile Video Content’ app at the 2018 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It live-streams content from over 300 channels in Hindi, English and multiple local languages. There is unlimited catch-up content on the offer too. Recently, JioTV also streamed a bilateral cricket series, and was a contender for the IPL rights too. Regular JioTV consumers were awarded with 100GB free data to spur additional viewing. All content on JioTV is free for Jio users, who are already paying for a Jio 4G plan. While the no-additional cost is good, it is a tad restricting too, because JioTV can only be accessed by Jio users.
DittoTV, the Zee Group-owned service, launched ahead of its time in 2012, when there were few takers for a subscription-driven online video service. Not until 2016 did the turnaround happen. It was triggered by a dramatic drop in DittoTV subscription prices from Rs 150 per month to Rs 20 per month. That, coupled with Reliance Jio’s entry in the telecom market, accelerated consumption. In 2017, DittoTV claimed that it had the largest paid subscriber base in India. While Hotstar was leading in terms of overall users, most were free hoarders. Now, DittoTV hosts live and catch-up TV content from Zee’s channels as well as other networks’ (excluding Star). It also offers streaming guides for users.
SonyLIV was starved of quality content until recently, when it acquired the rights of some major sporting events. Riding on viewership during the India-South Africa cricket series, SonyLIV’s monthly active users doubled to 15.8 million in March from 7.7 million in February, according to App Annie. It is now a neck-to-neck competitor of Hotstar in sports-streaming with rights to several cricket series, tennis Grand Slams, WWE championships, Commonwealth Games and more. Besides that, LIV houses live and catch-up content from Sony channels across general entertainment, movies, music etc.
YuppTV is more than a decade old, and has been popular with the Indian diaspora that was starved of desi shows in foreign shores. It carries programming of over 200 TV channels across 15 languages, and has partnered with the likes of Ola (in-car entertainment) and Vodafone Play to make its content more widely available. Recently, Star syndicated IPL 2018’s digital rights to YuppTV for streaming in Australia, Europe and Southeast Asia. It operates on a part-free, part-paid model, and claims to reach over 400 million households across the world. What possibly separates YuppTV from the rest is that it takes Indian television content to a few non-Indian homes as well.