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The boom of OTT in India: Real or a Bubble


OTT or Over the top media refers to the distribution of on demand streaming media over the internet. The content providers directly deliver Video on demand (VOD), film content etc. to viewers, surpassing the need for satellite pay TV services or the traditional cable TV service.

The rise of various OTT platforms has paved the way for a radical transformation of the media industry. Some of the prominent players are Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Voot, Sony Liv, Jio TV etc.

Let's analyze the possible reasons for the surge of OTT in India:

Internet Proliferation

India has witnessed an accelerating growth in the number of active smartphone users with easy access to high speed internet. This has widened the potential market for OTT media platforms.

Viewership Dynamics

The litmus test for any entertainment is that it should appeal to the sensibilities of the audience. With the millennials taking charge, there is limited tolerance for saas-bahu sagas and the accompanied melodrama. The viewer today wants content that's profound, logical and meaningful.

Also, freedom, comfort and flexibility are valued a lot nowadays. With extremely busy lifestyles and hectic routines, the traditional TV watching as per fixed slots has become quite redundant.

Creative Content and User-friendly interface

Content is the penultimate game changer in today's fiercely competitive world. It is imperative to develop a content portfolio that is diverse and engaging to keep the audience hooked. OTT platforms boast of exceptional creative content across diverse genres and languages such as Sacred Games, Delhi Crime, Comicstaan, House of Cards, Little Things 2 etc. to name a few. For the future also, OTT platforms have committed huge investments in the name of content and have even opened an ocean of opportunities for the passionate and talented craftsmen. Besides, the user-friendly interface of these platforms is the cherry on the cake providing a seamless customer experience.

Out of the box synergies

There have been some very interesting synergies in this sphere. For instance, Amazon has synergized it's e-commerce marketspace Amazon Prime with it's OTT platform Amazon Prime Video which has multiplied it's user base by manifold creating a pool of loyal customers.

On-point Positioning

OTT platforms have positioned themselves as video on demand platforms which are convenient, rich in experience and broadcast quality video to fulfill the digital consumption desire of the audiences. The phrase "Netflix and Chill" has become a quintessential part of millenial parlance. The bang on positioning has further aided in market penetration and growth.

Introductory freebies

You can never go wrong with this strategy. The customer all around the world and more specifically in India is obsessed with freebies. Most of the OTT platforms provided free monthly trial packs at the beginning to lure the customers and get them hooked. This strategy enabled them to capture huge market segments especially the millennials making OTT as an unconscious yet indispensable part of their lifestyle.

While the growth of OTT is no less than revolutionary but there are a couple of questions that hover. For instance:

Pricing Paradox

How much is the Indian OTT customer willing to pay if at all he/she is willing in the first place. The customer's mind is like the Pandora's box. Nobody can solve this puzzle in a definitive. Although the subscription fee models of some providers such as Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video seem decent, others like Netflix are deliberating various customized offerings to cater to the pricing sensibilities of the Indian audience.

Evolving Market Share Dynamics

The emergence of foreign players such as Netflix and Amazon have disrupted the indigenous market share dynamics. Although Hotstar is still the market leader but others like Amazon and Netflix are growing exponentially creating quite a stir amongst the domestic players.

Rivalry within the Industry

Fierce competition would trigger various content rights acquisition wars in the future. Various players would be very closely monitoring the content portfolios of their competitors and try to poach the "stars and cash cows" of the offering matrices. The cult series F.R.I.E.N.D.S. which used to stream on Hotstar is now exclusively available on Netflix. This might just be the beginning of an inevitable intense rivalry.

Strategic Alliances

Another contention is the possibility of strategic acquisitions and content partnerships in the future and their impact on the biggest stakeholder i.e. the customer. At present, Hotstar has content partnerships with top three global studios- Disney, HBO and Fox and exclusively streaming the cult series Game of Thrones and gleaming its way up capitalising the fan frenzy.

Although the OTT industry is on an unprecedented growth trajectory and holds tremendous potential what remains to be seen is if it would be able to endure and survive the bubble like tendencies.

It would be too early to give a definite judgement on this. Let's wait and watch how the game unfolds.


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