While competing for quality content and audiences, has OTT started to resemble the TV business?
By Anish Mehta
OTT is a relatively new phenomenon to have exploded in the country and is very much here to stay. The number of players in the Indian OTT market witnessed a threefold increase in the last six years, growing from just nine players in 2012 to 32 in 2018. A recent report by Boston Consulting Group estimates that the Indian OTT market, which now stands at $0.5 billion, will grow to be $5 billion by 2023. A tenfold growth in five years is something very few industry verticals have witnessed historically.
TV still rules
Interestingly for India, the classic television is also still growing. The report says that traditional media continues to be the medium of choice for consumers with an overall share of 84%, the biggest chunk of which is with television. More than 200 million households in India have a television today, up from 180 million in 2016. This ensures a consistent, pan-India reach of the content aired on TV. What makes these statistics even more interesting for a market like India are the absolute numbers. There are more than 300 million households in the country today, growing ever so quickly. So, TV is far from reaching saturation in India.
Television is a long-established medium that offers set formats, and a standard framework is followed for production and launches. This framework ensures that high volumes are produced in a shorter time span. With OTT, though the volumes are smaller, there is tremendous scope for innovation as is seen in the very unique, edgy narratives nowadays.
How OTT fares
OTT has some very distinct advantages. It offers personalised entertainment on demand, anywhere, anytime across devices — mainly smartphones, which have a penetration of more than 500 million today, in India. It also offers real-time viewership monitoring, something very difficult to achieve with TV. This in no way means that TV does not have visible, tangible data. Animated cartoons like Motu Patlu are aired for six hours on Nickelodeon on a daily basis, giving the entire viewing population a clear picture of its success.
It is important to note here that vernacular entertainment is the stronghold of TV. Even though OTT players like Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, ALTBalaji and Hotstar, among others, are producing more and more regional content to tap as many users as possible, TV still dominates here. To add more perspective, OTT is yet to penetrate rural India, which has always been a big traditional media market. TV is a godsend for rural folk who make up around 70% of the Indian population.
Then there is the question of monetisation. Where OTT platforms are undertaking concerted efforts to get more subscribers (their primary source of revenue generation), advertising and sponsorships have forever been raking in a lot of moolah for the grand old television. For the show Selfie with Bajrangi, Disney Hungama employed a burst strategy wherein subsequent episodes of the show were played one after the other, much like on an OTT platform.
Also, in the normal run of things, where OTT spends big to get original and exclusive content on board, players now prefer to air content that is already running on a different platform, thereby leveraging the placement of an IP.
Today, TV and OTT are both growing in the country. Animation is transcending boundaries in this regard. We are living in a beautiful era of plurality.
The author is CEO, Cosmos Maya