When entertainment goes online: decoding the new binge watching trend in India


Entertainment has always been an interesting industry in India. History shows that India has the second oldest film industry in the world which originated more than 100 years ago. Today, more than 1,600 films are produced in various Indian languages every year. Recent reports by PwC projected that the Indian entertainment and media industry will grow at a CAGR of 11.6 percent to reach Rs 3,53,609 crore by 2022. This projection will set India to be among the top 10 over-the-top video markets in four years.

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Indian consumers have a new big appetite for binge-watching

The projection by PwC does not come as a surprise; Indians’ appetite for binge-watching has been growing exponentially, not only in urban India but also in rural India. The trend of consuming content has shifted and there is rising demand from the consumers of Tier-II and Tier-III markets who are looking to engage in engaging and interesting content. Nowadays, due to the advent of OTT platforms, consumers don’t have to necessarily sit back at one particular place to watch their favourite film as there are a lot of on-demand video content apps that offer movies, TV shows, videos, and music.

Consumers can now literally binge watch anywhere and anytime they want. We can see that the phenomenon has been occurring across India. Whenever we are in public places like cafes or restaurants, waiting in line, walking in parks, or on the way to work, we will often come across people staring down on their phone, doing nothing but binge-watching on their device.

One of the reasons why the binge-watching trend has been growing is device penetration. According to US-based media agency Zenith, in 2018, India will have 530 million smartphone users, becoming a country with the largest smartphone users after China. The study also shows that two out of three Indian mobile users (roughly 433 million) are planning to upgrade their device to a smartphone. With more smartphone penetration in the country, more Indians will have a device that allows them to binge-watch their favourite shows.

Affordable data packs and reasonable smartphones are key drivers

Binge-watching can lead to a big chunk of data consumption. According to India Mobile Broadband Index 2018, video streaming contributes to 65-75 percent of mobile data consumption in India. This might be a problem as it will lead to high internet bills. However, this is not the case in India thanks to the Jio-revolution. Telecom operators in India have been significantly dropping the price of their internet data offers for the past two years, ever since Jio disrupted the market in 2016. As internet price gets lower, Indians have no worry about binge-watching as long as they want, with no fear of consuming too much internet data.

The increase of smartphone penetration in the country combined with cheaper mobile data that allows consumers to consume as much internet as they want has become a reason for India’s entertainment and media industry to quickly grow, especially in the OTT industry. With the portability that allows consumers to watch their favourite films anywhere they like, together with the availability of any content demanded by consumers, the entertainment and media industry in India – especially OTT – might just soon become the biggest in the world.

Growing demand for relatable and localized content

There is a variety of demand from consumers for content, from content categories such as comedy, sports, news, and games to content in diverse languages such as English, Hindi, Punjabi, Telugu, etc. The proliferation of new video content creates opportunities for OTT players to provide high-quality content for targeted consumers to fulfill their demands. The additional of regional content platforms has also paved the way for mass-market adoption as opposed to the erstwhile niche offerings catering to urban households. With more than 40 OTT players in India, binge-watchers have unlimited choices of content offers which cover any kind of demand one could have, no matter whether they are from urban or rural India.

Binge watching online is an escalating trend that is bound to grow tremendously across the country, with consumers getting away from big screens and adapting to their mobile screens as a primary source to obtain all their entertainment needs. It will be interesting to see a revolution in online video content consumption industry with data evolution.

Jason Wang is the Managing Director for SHAREit India.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


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