Streaming slowdown: How OTTs are expected to go through an evolution

With online streaming becoming a large-scale business in India, changes are likely to be witnessed in current business models.

Raman Abrol
With the rise of cloud gaming and the advent of standalone 5G, both gamers and communications service providers are opening new worlds of intriguing possibilities.

By Raman Abrol

India has seen a significant shift in the way entertainment is consumed during the two years of the pandemic. The closure of theatres and cinemas turned the focus of content owners to online streaming platforms and over-the-top (OTT) media rapidly gained momentum. OTT services have been thriving on easy access to smartphones and the internet, growing interest in social media, affordable mobile and broadband subscriptions.

With online streaming becoming a large-scale business in entertainment in India, changes are likely to be witnessed in current business models, strategies to manage spending, and customizations involved to suit consumers’ choices. While there is enough content to stream online, consumers’ insatiable desires for unique, choice-tailored content continue to pose concerns for streaming platforms and communication service providers. Despite performing considerably well in the market for years, giants like Disney Hotstar, Netflix, and Amazon are currently facing a big challenge – people are unwilling to subscribe. Now, to remain in competition these platforms need to devise fresh strategies. This will involve developing new content, and exclusive partnerships.

The booming partnerships in Entertainment
Due to the growing significance of the Indian OTT market, firms have taken advantage of content and distribution agreements to develop their subscriber bases by providing unique content across several platforms.

Consumers in India have already grown accustomed to mobile phones, TV, and internet bundles, but going forward, broader partner ecosystems will be introduced. These collaborations mark the beginning of a new era for packaged subscription platforms, which comprise mobile, television and internet in a bundle. Bundles can be powered by partners that deliver best-in-class services from all sides of the media industry. For instance, the streaming service Disney Plus has been a hot favorite among Indian subscribers ever since its launch. Instead of developing an app specifically for Indian users, the entity bought the Hotstar streaming service and subsequently changed its name to Disney+ Hotstar. Tens of millions of Indian subscribers were drawn by the merger of Disney and Star TV Network, giving them access to a wide range of high-quality Disney and Star TV content.

Besides, free trials are nothing new, but when done in the right way, long-term partnerships can be forged. This may increase viewership and aid in retaining clients for both the companies. Customers may find it more difficult to leave or wish to “churn and return” if they receive a variety of entertainment options from partners in a single bundle. Additionally, if customers are “locked in” for a long time, as the situation was during the pandemic, the platform has more time to prove its value and persuade them to stay after the free trial period.

With the rise of cloud gaming and the advent of standalone 5G, both gamers and communications service providers are opening new worlds of intriguing possibilities. In addition to partnership bundling, fresh “experience bundles” might take advantage of emerging trends like cloud gaming, AR (augmented reality)/VR (virtual reality) and the metaverse. Service providers will play a significant role as cloud gaming grows more popular, providing connectivity and quality-of-service through alliances with players in the gaming ecosystem and expanded capabilities made possible by 5G technology. Within the game industry, there is a clear desire to invest in the experience and go beyond what is currently available.

Interestingly, a report from Amdocs states that most users (78%) would be willing to pay at least USD10 for cloud gaming if a bundled 5G connection could be included. Nearly half of these respondents (44%) would be willing to spend more than USD20. Therefore, these bundles will gain popularity as these new digital experiences become a constant feature in our daily lives. along with new, adaptable monetization strategies with 5G connectivity.

It is also being predicted that new use cases for 5G will develop, including immersive live sports experiences powered by augmented reality and movies, TV shows, and games with 8K resolutions and low latency. Thus, to promote speedier adoption and growth in annual revenues, mobile carriers and OTT providers are eager to provide “bundles” with 5G data rate plans.

Monetising personalized experiences
The widespread use of the internet, the growing popularity of mobile devices, and the development of new technologies that have led to the establishment of online platforms all point to the video-on-demand (VOD) market’s growth trajectory. VOD services have slowly become a major reason for people to have internet connectivity in their devices. With VOC, consumers can stream any content of their choice, anytime and anywhere. To understand what end customers may want or need to meet their preferences, a new type of monetization technique that can be fine-tuned and specifically personalized to them is required as experiences grow increasingly menu based. To be competitive in the new digital environment, this will be crucial.

Indian firms are becoming highly data driven. For almost all daily operations to be successful, data and analytics are essential. Cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and analytics are being used by businesses more and more these days to improve audience engagement and monetize their content. Insights into video performance, viewer engagement, etc., are provided through deep video analytics. By using ML models, they are also able to forecast future customer behavior and recommend ways that will increase viewer engagement.

Today’s consumers prefer packaged deals more. They are understood to be handy and exclusive to their tastes and suit their pockets. A good package, for example, may include cloud gaming, online streaming, and metaverse accessibility, among others. Accordingly, they also tend to tailor their hardware requirements like VR/AR headsets, controllers, monitors, etc. Package customization is, therefore, here to stay.

The growing complexity of entertainment
The driving element behind the industry’s evolution is its content. India’s enormous population and youthful demographics make for a vibrant and exciting business environment. India’s young, digitally savvy population is dispersed across a large geographic area, has a wide variety of tastes and languages, and values entertainment that is cross-cultural in nature. The OTT and the streaming media are here to stay as content and technology combine to produce a solution that fits this business environment.

To be competitive and satisfy customer preferences, today’s businesses must continue to be adaptable and look at new methods of engagement and monetization. The benefits of 5G’s high speed and low latency will be necessary for these next-generation partnerships and bundles, which can dependably support intensive, seamless experiences on demand. This will make the future of media tailored for everyone.

The author is Chief Executive Officer, Vubiquity and General Manager, Amdocs

Also Read: Why COOs are back in Demand? McKinsey & Company reports

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First published on: 05-11-2022 at 15:38 IST
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