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These 5 video-streaming services are making subscription a habit for Indians

Sohini Mitter
30th Aug 2018
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A report by Statista reveals that over 70 percent of digital Indians subscribe to one or more video-streaming apps, also known as over-the-top (OTT) content services.

Online entertainment has exploded in India. We aren’t saying this. The numbers are.

In 2017, Indians viewed over 250 million online videos, according to a FICCI-EY report. That is a massive growth of 64 percent from the year before. It doesn’t stop here. EY estimates the number to reach 500 million by 2020, making India the world’s second largest online video market after the US.

At present, 77 percent of Indians with an internet connection consume entertainment on their smartphones, a trend sparked off by the dramatic fall in mobile data prices following the rollout of Reliance Jio in September 2016. EY states the average monthly data consumed by a user almost tripled to 3.9 GB in 2017, and will grow to a whopping 18 GB in five years. Until about a year ago, Indians wouldn’t be consuming that much data in an entire year.

Interestingly, we are not only watching more, but paying more too. Revenues from online entertainment are estimated to surpass film industry collections in another two years, according to EY. A separate report by Statista indicates that over 70 percent of digital Indians subscribe to one or more video-streaming apps, also known as over-the-top (OTT) content services.

The average amount spent in a month for paid content is Rs 255, according to a joint report by IMRB and Kantar Media, and the market for OTT subscription is estimated to grow to Rs 4,000 crore by 2020. Homegrown Hotstar leads the pack in terms of users. Global biggies Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hooq and local services like ALT Balaji, Voot, Sony LIV, Eros Now, etc follow.

There is a wide variety of content on offer: films, TV shows (Western and Indian), original web series, documentaries, comedy specials, music videos, talk shows, sports leagues, and more. Almost all of India’s major languages are well represented. Top artistes have been roped in, and content is being distributed across platforms from cellular networks to smart TVs and satellite television.

The easy accessibility and affordability of OTT services has led to a habit change in price-conscious Indians. Paying for content has ceased to be an aberration. In fact, India’s internet-savvy generation has realised that good content does come at a price. Of course, free apps continue to exist. But, subscription-driven video-streaming services are slowly becoming mass.

YourStory picks the top five OTT services:

Netflix

Netflix is the Google of streaming services. You don’t video-stream anymore, you simply Netflix. When a service becomes a verb, you can very well determine its place in everyday life. Counterpoint estimates there are five million monthly subscribers of Netflix in India, and millions more who opt for free trials. Netflix doesn’t share country-specific numbers, but it may be the top revenue-generating streaming service in the country. The basic Netflix plan comes at Rs 500/month, and it gives users access to popular web Originals, hundreds of movies, comedy specials, and so on. It is believed that Sacred Games, Netflix’s first original series in India, has contributed majorly in growing its subscriber base this year.

Amazon Prime Video

Prime Video comes bundled with an Amazon Prime subscription (that also includes Prime shopping benefits and Prime Music), which is priced at Rs 999 a year. While Netflix prided itself on marketing its already-popular Originals in India, Amazon took the local route right at the outset. It not only acquired the streaming rights for a plethora of Bollywood and regional language films, but also signed up top names in the domestic stand-up circuit to create original shows on the platform. Amazon Studios went on to produce two shows - Inside Edge and Breathe - as well. But, Prime Video’s USP lies in its vast catalogue of Indian films and the larger Amazon customer base in India.

Hotstar

Hotstar was India’s first video-streaming app to make a mark and crack open the market. It launched in 2015 during the ICC Cricket World Cup and made mobile sports viewing a mass phenomenon. Three years on, Hotstar notched up a global record in live sports streaming when 10.3 million concurrent viewers logged in to watch the IPL 2018 final. Suffice to say, sports, particularly cricket, drives Hotstar’s growth. To make the most of this viewership, Hotstar launched an All Sports Subscription Pack priced at Rs 299 a year.

Besides IPL, it also owns the streaming rights for all BCCI matches and other marquee sporting tournaments such as the English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Wimbledon, French Open, Badminton World Championships, etc. Also available on the platform, and mostly for free, is the entire Star library of movies, serials, news, music and talk shows across 10+ languages. A monthly subscription costs Rs 199.

Hooq

If Netflix and Prime Video are burning a hole in your pocket, there is Singapore-based video-on-demand service Hooq, which launched its app in India last year. A Hooq subscription is priced attractively at Rs 89 for the first three months, and Rs 89 per month after that. Hooq is positioning itself as the “Home for Hollywood” in India, and wants to tap into the country’s growing English-speaking population. It also houses full seasons of hugely popular American TV shows like Friends, The Big Bang Theory, and Two and a Half Men. The service also allows you to rent individual movie titles for Rs 59, unlike Prime Video or Netflix, which do not have pay-per-view (PPV) options.

ALTBalaji

Balaji Telefilms-owned streaming service ALTBalaji crossed a million paid subscribers in May. Prior to that, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio acquired a 25 percent stake in the platform to make its content available on Jio Cinema and Jio TV. ALTBalaji’s strength lies in its distinctly different audience base that might skip a Lust Stories on Netflix, but lap up a Gandii Baat (a show on erotica based in the Hindi heartland). ALTBalaji creates original web series in Hindi and English, primarily targeting the 18-30 population outside urban India. The service revealed that viewers had consumed more than 800 million minutes of video on its platform at the end of March 2018. Its flagship show Bose: Dead Or Alive, starring popular Bollywood actor Rajkummar Rao, led to growth in subscriptions, and won it a few awards too. An annual ALTBalaji subscription is available at Rs 300.

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