Binge-watching is the new weekend plan, originals are the new movie date, and Netflix and chill is the new escape from a regular day. The increasing drift towards the consumption of content from over-the-top or OTT video streaming platforms such as Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and other popular names by the youth of the country is plainly visible in India.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in its report titled “Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2019-2023” predicted India’s video streaming industry to be valued at INR 11.97K Cr by 2023. While the numbers show that the Indian OTT industry is still at its nascent growth stage, the entry of more than 30 streaming platforms in a span of barely three years speaks volumes about the massive potential this industry has. The rapid growth has not only provided a wide berth for content creators and owners but also advertisers and brands in the digital consumer market.
But the biggest issue in the Indian OTT market is the fact that Indians are not yet embracing paying for it wholeheartedly. Four out of five Indian users admitted to sharing their OTT log-in credentials with friends or family as per Vidooly’s “Indian OTT Landscape” report. The online video analytics and marketing company’s survey report summarises subscription behaviour, content and genre types, devices used, frequency and occasions of consumption, content library, consumption, revenue models and other important parameters.
While the rate at which subscriptions are rising in the Indian OTT industry is phenomenal, there’s still a large opportunity in terms of the addressable base that is still not paying for streaming subscriptions. Vidooly’s survey states that the platforms have recognised the price-sensitive nature of the Indian audience along with changing preferences and personalised experiences. This has led to the provision of multiple screens and the introduction of cheaper subscription plans by these platforms.
The survey further revealed that despite not having paid directly for subscriptions, 65% of the respondents still had access to subscription video on demand (SVOD) platforms. It further stated that the audience is gaining access to OTT content through various sources of subscription such as tie-ups with telecom companies and pooled-in subscriptions.
Freeloading has become a cause of concern for OTT players in India. The casual password-sharing phenomenon is causing the platforms to lose several potential subscribers, also leading to discrepancies in user personas that help platforms tailor their services and catalogue. The survey showed that 67% of total respondents confessed that they borrowed passwords for Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime and other platforms from friends or family.
Netflix and Amazon Prime Video turn out to be the most borrowed OTT Platforms.
The Vidooly survey showed that the OTT platforms are dominated by the audience in the age group of 24-34 years, equally split between students and employed individuals. While the maximum share belongs to metro cities, respondents from non-metro formed the majority share amongst the non-subscribers.
Originals are the new trend in the OTT segment. Streaming platforms are betting on this emerging trend to capture the attention of the audience, said Vidooly. A whopping 85% of the audience voted for originals as compared to watching other shows. About 25% of the people who took the survey like to explore new content while about 32% of the respondents prefer watching content which has been popular for some time. As many as 43% of Indians enjoy watching new releases and trending shows the most.
Subscription fees play a major role in motivating users to subscribe or unsubscribe. The Indian OTT landscape has come up in prominence only recently, but it has gained momentum in 2019 with over 30 platforms competing for a share of the subscriber base. New entrants such as Apple TV+ and Flipkart Videos have also made the segment more competitive.
Despite the proliferation of 30+ OTT Platforms in India, price continues to be a big factor. 69% of the respondents who subscribed to any video streaming platform said they wouldn’t hesitate to unsubscribe if there was a price hike. This price hike is driving consumers to opt for pooled-in subscriptions, which is justified by the 40% respondents who admitted that ‘friends pitching-in to take an OTT subscription’ is a major influencing factor.
What Is India Binge-Watching?
Vidooly states that documentaries capture the highest interest of the audience between 24 and 45 years. As the audience crosses the age of 34, their interest in the romance genre starts to fall with action and adventure fascinating the 45+ age group the most. The survey further found that older audience prefers movies while the younger audience shows a preference for TV shows.
Younger audiences between 24 – 34 years of age prefer the romance genre with 51% viewership. Preference for drama, crime & thriller and reality shows is consistent among all age groups.
Metro vs Non-Metro
Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hotstar are the most preferred OTT platforms. While the audience from metro cities show an inclination towards TV Shows, non-metro residents are more likely to watch movies.
News on OTT is also preferred more by users in non-metro cities. On the other hand, original shows and content, and documentaries are more preferred by the audience in metro cities. Contrary to the popular notion, a significant share of the audience in the metro cities consumes regional content. One out of four respondents living in metro cities said that they watch content in regional languages.
Demographics Playing A Role
The survey stated that men preferred watching sports content, news and live TV more than female users. On the other hand, women prefer watching music videos more than males. However, movies and TV shows are equally preferred by the male and female audience surveyed.
It further stated that with the increase in age, preference towards watching sports content increases.
Younger age groups that do not have the disposable income to buy premium plans which could be one of the reasons for the low preference of Gen-Z towards sports content.
Where Are Indians Streaming?
Half of the audience that consumes streaming content every day chose mobile phones as their preferred device. 45% of the respondents who streamed only on weekends and holidays chose a laptop for the same. On the other hand, only 30% of the daily streamers chose laptop as their preferred streaming device. Interestingly, 64% of the respondents who streamed on television were daily streamers, which indicates that DTH viewing may be taking a backseat
YouTube, one of the top video-streaming platforms in India, derives 85% of its viewership through mobile phones. But when it comes to OTT platforms, the share of audience preferring mobile phones sharply declines to 50%.
The Most Popular OTT Platforms In India
Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Hotstar bag the top three spots when it comes to monthly active users.
Netflix, which started in India at the same time as Amazon, in 2016, has been focusing on Indian content for the past two years. Both Amazon and market leader Hotstar have been banking on Indian content in the past year along with increasing original content series and movies in different Indian languages.
Hotstar takes a lead in the number of individual subscriptions with 11% respondents opting for its individually-paid subscription. Thanks to live sports, Hotstar has an easier time attracting individual subscriptions with 61% of the respondents opting for subscriptions to watch sports. The condition of not being able to stream simultaneously on different screens is another factor that compels the sports fanatics to opt for its individual subscription, it added.
Netflix says it would be spending over $400 Mn on Indian content in the next year, and so far it has shown great growth thanks to increasing original content. While it is the most expensive option among the leading players, 87% of those who subscribe do so as they like to explore new content on Netflix thanks to its mix of international and Indian shows. Sacred Games from Netflix ranks second on the most engaging shows on YouTube in 2019.
On Vidooly’s survey, Netflix told Inc42 that 70% of its subscribers watch at least one film a week in India and that as a percentage of overall time spent on Netflix, film viewing in India is the highest for any country worldwide. Netflix further told us that Mighty Little Bheem is the most-watched preschool series on Netflix globally and the second-most-watched kids’ series for the platform worldwide.
The highest number of uploads on the YouTube channel of Netflix in 2019 belonged to the category of TV Shows and Web Series with a 58.39% share. The views and engagement of the same content stood at 76.87% and 74.33% respectively. The platform had an almost equal weightage for uploads between originals vs regular content in 2019.
Amazon Prime Video
What works in favour of Amazon Prime Video is its cost-effectiveness as compared to arch-rival Netflix. Since Prime includes free deliveries as well as Amazon Music, it seems like the option that gives the most value for money to users. Four More Shots and Mirzapur from Amazon Prime rank sixth and ninth on the most engaging shows on YouTube in 2019.
The highest number of uploads on the YouTube channel of Amazon Prime in 2019 belonged to the category of TV Shows and Web Series with a 77.66% share. The views and engagement of the same content stood at 80.72% and 96.92% respectively. The numbers are higher than that of Netflix. Between originals and regular content, the platform skimmed higher on the originals with a 75% upload share in 2019.
MX Player, owned by Times Internet was repositioned in 2018 as an OTT platform. The application has over 500 Mn downloads and has an active viewership of more than 176 Mn users. The numbers are massive when compared to other platforms and almost similar to that of Hotstar, but that’s because MX Player is largely used to play videos and movies from the device rather than for streaming. However, the platform has already launched original content in various regional languages for its streaming business.
The highest number of uploads on the YouTube channel of MX Player in 2019 belonged to the category of TV Shows and Web Series with a 93.33% share. The views and engagement of the same content stood at 71% and 78.77% respectively. While the upload numbers are higher than that of Netflix or Amazon, the absorption is slightly lower. Between originals and regular content, the platform skimmed higher on the originals with a 91% upload share in 2019.
Voot, backed by Viacom18, offers a massive variety of content for all age groups. Exclusive rights to publish content belonging to the bigger umbrella of Network18 along with recent push towards generating original content has worked for Voot. The ad-based VOD model of subscription that is free for users has also been a major attraction.
The highest number of uploads on the YouTube channel of Voot in 2019 belonged to the category of TV Shows and Web Series with a 94.81% share. The views and engagement of the same content stood at 94.97% and 94.70% respectively. The three elements reflect the highest among other contenders but with a higher emphasis on regular content.
While Eros Now has only 10 Mn+ downloads, the study found that it had the highest engagement levels compared to other OTT platforms with more than 166 Mn active users out of which 21.1 Mn users are paid subscribers.
Eros Now CEO Ali Hussein told Inc42, “The core strategy for Eros Now is to drive a premium experience for the user and this is consistent with what we do on content/programming, user experience, technology, and marketing. Our partnership with Microsoft to build a linguistic-based video platform and launch of Dolby on Eros Now are some examples of how we have been unique and first to South Asian viewers worldwide.”
The Future Of OTT In India
Undisrupted 4G connectivity has played a major role in enabling online content consumption. Not only has it made access to the internet easier but also affordable, thus driving the user-spends towards other means of entertainment, including video-on-demand Platforms.
While Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime have become established names in the industry, new entrants such as AppleTV+ and Flipkart Videos are soon to mark their debut.
Vidooly states that innovations such as voice tags augmented and virtual reality, 360-degree viewing, and blockchain technology are also getting intensely explored. It further states that other than recognizing consumer’s changing preferences and the need for personalised experiences, brands have to also realise the price-sensitive nature of the market.