Looking into the future, over the top: OTT trends that will lead the way in 2019
To say that OTT (over-the-top) technologies have disrupted the Indian entertainment landscape would be making a major understatement. Subscription-based on-demand OTT platforms like Netflix, nexGTv, and Amazon Prime have risen in popularity over the past couple of years and are fast displacing traditional TV programming as the preferred medium of entertainment for modern Indians.
This shift in viewer sensibilities also reflects in the growth projections for the country’s OTT industry. As per a Boston Consulting Group report, the Indian OTT market, which is currently valued at $500 million, is expected to reach an astounding $5 billion by 2023.
But how will the OTT space shape up in 2019, and what new trends are expected to drive its continued growth? Here are some key market trends that will define the direction of the Indian OTT industry this year:
1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning-based recommendations and content creation
Cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning will enable OTT players to gather, analyse, and generate insights from vast volumes of digital data pertaining to user viewing patterns. This will not only help players to streamline the way they curate and recommend content to their users, but also enable them to create original content which is in sync with the viewing preferences of different audience demographics. Such a personalised approach can significantly bolster OTT adoption in countries such as India, where each regional market has its own entertainment preferences and sensibilities.
2. Immersive, seamless, and high-quality viewing experience across multiple media formats
With technology advancing by the day, the content consumption experience will also take an exciting turn. Even now, interactive video-based digital content allows a viewer to actively participate in the progression of the narrative, thus delivering an extra-immersive experience. OTT platforms are already making it possible for viewers to enjoy seamless digital entertainment across multiple media formats, be it through mobile apps or online websites.
Top players in the domain are also leveraging seamless inter-connectivity to enable viewers to watch their choice of content on bigger screens, such as 4k and 8k, and smart TVs. This is most apparent in the fast-accelerating trend of HD/UHD streaming on major OTT platforms. Over the past couple of years, a boom in the sales of high-definition TVs has been observed, even in tier-2 and tier-3 markets, with features such as higher picture quality, more immersive viewing experience, and ultra-high resolution becoming increasingly popular. According to a report, the Indian TV market is expected to cross $ 13 billion by 2023.
The shift clearly signals an inclination to have a big-screen HQ viewing experience, which OTT industry is readily providing them, in addition to that on handheld devices. Innovative technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality will also open up yet more avenues for content creation and consumption, making OTT entertainment more immersive, experiential, and engaging.
3. More of good quality original content
With OTT platforms readily providing distribution opportunities to indie and regional filmmakers, there has been an explosive growth in the production of original content. These range from low-budget experimental features to those comparable with blockbuster series, like Mirzapur, Sacred Games, It’s my City, and more. 2019 will also see the launch of regional OTT apps targeting specific language natives in India and global diaspora at large facilitating a much-deserved viewership to content as diverse as there are languages in the country.
4. Blockchain-powered content protection
Blockchain adoption in the OTT domain is expected to increase in 2019 and beyond, as it can help content creators and distributors in storing, cataloguing, copyrighting, and distributing digital content. Blockchain’s immutable, decentralised public ledger will also enable OTT platforms to introduce more effective access policies and restrictions. This will help ensure that digital content remains seamlessly accessible to authorised users, while protecting it against copyright infringements and online piracy.
5. OTT beyond entertainment
The combination of mobile internet and smartphones has already contributed significantly towards democratising education all over the world. With any and every bit of information just a finger-tap away, learning is now not confined to classrooms alone. OTT services will help boost this revolution by further expanding the dimensions of a classroom. From being a mere physical part of a building, a classroom will soon become a metaphor for millions of people live-streaming lectures, across the globe and across time.
This shift from classroom-based education delivery to an online self-learning environment will be accompanied and bolstered by video lectures, live webinars, and interactive quizzes. OTT-based digital learning will also enable learners to pursue multidisciplinary education by taking up relevant online live or recorded courses, as per their requirements.
In the past couple of years, there has been a collective shift in media consumption sensibilities, with people preferring over-the-top media services over the traditional media. Apart from providing a massive content diversity, the power of choice, and seamless accessibility, OTT makes for a more immersive and engaging medium of entertainment delivery and consumption. The aforementioned trends will further enhance OTT’s appeal in the eyes of Indian viewers and will continue to drive the domain’s exponential market growth – all the while ushering in an unparalleled revolution in the larger entertainment ecosystem and beyond.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)