According to the BCG-CII report, subscription based OTT platforms registered a 55-60% growth in India in 2020
With cinema theatres shut for almost seven months, many movies skipped theatrical release to premiere on these streaming platforms.
You win some, lose some — this is how perhaps 2020 will be described. Home-bound entertainment suddenly was all about binging content on over-the-top (OTT) platforms. From Netflix to Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, ZEE5, Voot Select — viewers in India subscribed to these platforms to watch content online. According to the BCG-CII report on the media and entertainment (M&E) industry, subscription based video-on-demand (SVoD) platforms registered a 55-60% growth in 2020. “India has the highest viewing of films on Netflix globally and over the last year, 80% of our members in India chose to watch a film every week. As we bring in the new year, we want to continue to cater to our audience by building a robust slate of differentiated stories that are suited to the different moods of our members,” Srishti Arya, director, international original film, Netflix India, told BrandWagon Online.
To be sure, it wasn’t just the viewers who took a liking to various streaming platforms but also producers and filmmakers. With cinema theatres shut for almost seven months, many movies skipped theatrical release to premiere on these streaming platforms. The trend was kickstarted by Amazon Prime Videos with the acquisition of Gulabo Sitabo and Shakuntala Devi, along with five other regional movies. “The release of the first direct to service titles on Amazon Prime Video was a disruptor and gamechanger in the Indian entertainment space. It reinforced that great content transcends geographic barriers. Our direct to digital films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam received close to 50% viewership from customers outside the home states – thus hugely expanding the audience base for these films,” Gaurav Gandhi, director and country general manager, Amazon Prime Video India, said. He claimed that the platform has registered a very strong growth in absolute viewing hours, as well as a surge in the number of new Prime members.
In order to capitalise on the rising user base, SVoD based platforms rejigged its content plan, thereby advancing the release of many new shows and films. For Rahul Maroli, senior vice president and business head – SVoD, ZEE5, new viewers which came on board during lockdown were primarily the viewers which migrated from TV to digital, hence there was a need to introduce a wider variety of content. “What the pandemic brought in was a slightly different set of consumers– the TV kind of consumers who were earlier not the ‘thrill and crime’ watching users. Earlier, most OTT platforms largely catered to male audiences but now we see that there’s a lot of TV audience who have come on board. So our focus is now changing towards women and family viewing kind of content,” he added.
Leveraging the moment, streaming platforms indulged in various marketing techniques to onboard new users. From Netflix dropping the paywall for three days to Amazon Prime Videos premiering movies strategically around festivals, OTT platforms have managed to establish a loyal base of consumers. This would mean that even the growth rate slows down SVoD based services will not register a negative growth post the pandemic. “The number of users that the OTT industry had projected to add in the coming two-three have been achieved in the past 8-10 months. This growth is going to be beneficial for the industry,” Jehil Thakkar, partner, Deloitte, stated.