While advertisers were always expected to move to digital channels what’s surprising is that subscriptions too are coming in. While, in 2016, they accounted for less than 3% of advertising revenues, at Rs 2,000 crore, they would be about a tenth of advertising revenues by 2020. While Hotstar costs Rs 199 per month, Amazon’s Prime Video is even cheaper at Rs 999 annually. AltBalaji is available at Rs 60 per month while Zee5 comes for Rs 150 a month. Netflix is the most expensive at Rs 650 per month. Several over the top (OTT) platforms come free; for instance, VOOT from the Viacom18 stable. Some like SonyLiv charge only for a part of the content. With OTT players teaming up with telcos, consumers may get better deals. For instance, a post-paid Airtel consumer, on the Rs 499 per month plan, has access to Amazon Prime for a year. Vivek Couto, ED, Media Partners Asia, said the bundling of content and mobile phone gives the consumer an easier payment option. “Until there are more payment options for streaming platforms, consumers might prefer bundling,” Couto said.
Given the variety of content on OTT platforms as also the convenience, consumers clearly don’t mind paying. Indeed, EY estimates that by 2020 India would have become the second-largest video-viewing audience globally with 500 million viewers. Which is why OTT players are rushing to gather content. While films are being acquired, they’re also creating other kinds of programmes of a shorter length, experts say since consumers seem to prefer that. The average length of video viewed in India, EY estimated, is around 20 minute. Ajit Mohan, CEO, Hotstar, said digital, people will look for fundamentally different content than what has been working on TV. People will gravitate towards long-form stories on digital that has been the bedrock of TV. And advertisers would pay a premium only in case of those platforms where there is a greater clarity on what kind of consumers its reaches to,” he said. Indeed, a very large share of content consumed on YouTube is short-form. Industry watchers reckon OTT players are understood to have spent close to Rs 850 crore in 2017 to buy rights for local films. With most consumers watching video shows in Hindi and vernacular languages, the content is being created to cater for these preferences. Amazon has acquired digital telecast rights for more than two dozen films for its OTT platform; Netflix and Hotstar too have been shopping for movies. And all of them are doubling down on locally customised original content which is what will drive viewership. ALT Balaji for instance, recently released its first Tamil show Maya Thirrai with 16 episodes.
Vijay Subramaniam, director – content, Prime Video India, observes that after building a library of local content last year, the idea is to further enhance the content offering. “This would include films as well as 10 original shows. Among these are a music reality show The Remix and a trilingual fiction show Breathe, starting CYQ1 of 2018,” Subramaniam said. In December, Amazon Prime Video showcased a multilingual medical thriller ‘Breathe” its second Indian original series.