The Indian market is not aloof with the concepts: Content Delivery Networks aka CDN and Over-The-Top aka OTT. However, there practical implication and necessity is still something marketers need to ponder upon.
A commercial of a small-towner team dressed in orange with animated expressions on their faces is now playing on the smartphone screen, as you live-stream one of the most consequential matches of your favorite team.
The creative commercial with its dramatic theme has lightened the moment a bit when ‘strokes of geniuses’ are on display on the field during the final overs of a nail-biting contest.
What some would call a cinematic masterpiece – given the perfect dialogue delivery, immaculate storyline, and lively expressions – ends by concluding where you should shop from when the ongoing duel gets rounded off.
But now, the anxiety of the result has already started gripping you, following a brief grin, you are back to watching the match!
As interesting as today’s advertisements have become, you cannot ignore the fact that how well-knit the broader Indian business landscape is becoming.
If you closely analyze the commercial, you see the role of disparate markets at play simultaneously – the entertainment industry, the marketing industry, ecommerce industry, telecommunications industry, app development (and support), retail and logistics, call center and BPO industry, manufacturing and services and so on – everyone directly and indirectly adding value to each other and the e-commerce commercial adding value to all of them.
But something that remains hidden from plain sight is the value that Content Delivery Networks (CDN) and Over-The-Top (OTT) solutions are adding to this whole dynamic. But what are these CDN and OTT solutions and how can they play a role in India’s industries?
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Let us find out.
CDN And OTT Solutions: The Role In The Broader Indian Market
The reason why the Indian market, or any other market for that matter, was earlier unacquainted with modern-day growth was primarily because of the unavailability of an active channel of communication between businesses and their target audience.
Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and digital technologies became that channel. As the speed of data and individual mobile device capabilities such as the smartphones increased, it became possible to stream a wide variety of content online.
Entertainment, which had earlier been time- and location-specific, was now available anytime and anywhere. Whether it was streaming the newly-released episode of your favorite TV show, shopping online while standing in a queue, playing a multiplayer game while waiting for someone, or live streaming cricket on your way back from office – everything instantly became possible with the touch of a button. Ultimately, making the broader Indian market only a click away from its target audience.
This is where OTT and CDN solutions come into the picture.
OTT platforms are digital service providers such as YouTube, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, and Netflix that broadcast media without using the public internet infrastructure. It helps them to bypass telecommunications, cable, and broadcast television networks that traditionally serve as a distributor of the media.
These networks either have their own standalone infrastructure or leverage the services of CDNs. By doing so, they minimize content latency due to transmission delays and network congestions that are frequent in the public internet. This, as a result, enhances their end-user experience.
But why are these delays so significant for OTT platforms and the end-user?
According to Limelight Networks’ recent ‘The State of The User Experience‘ report, nearly half of the incoming traffic to a website will not wait for more than five seconds for it to load. Adding to this, more than 43% of the remaining will leave the website and go to a competitor if the website is persistently slow to load.
Frequent delays extend a disjointed service and hamper the end-user experience. For instance, a user live streaming a cricket match is more likely to abandon it if the mobile application is frequently buffering due to the weak mobile network. He or she might prefer to visit a website that is live streaming the textual score in real-time. This is because users need consistency in experience.
OTT platforms thus must feature high-quality media content, which can either be user-generated (as in the case of YouTube) or a mix of sourced and exclusive content (as in the case of Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, and nexGTv). However, the key to sustainable success is in the efficient delivery of this content.
This is where CDNs come in. Their primary objective is to minimize the content latency that arises due to transmission delays in order to ensure a seamless experience for the users of OTT platforms. Content latency refers to the delay in data transfer when the distance between a web server hosting a particular file and the location of the end-user is considerable.
With the purpose of decreasing this delay, the content needs to be hosted as close as possible to the end-user and relayed from there. This key function is handled by CDNs, for OTT players as they have a global network of data centers and proxy servers for the same. OTT players are able to also leverage this network to scale globally or in different geographies without incurring additional infrastructural spends.
The Indian OTT market is estimated to be worth $280 Mn at present and is experiencing a 35% YoY growth. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, with the OTT market having only about 100 Mn subscribers today.
Imagine what becomes of these two markets, namely OTT and CDN, when Indian smartphone adoption reaches the anticipated 520 Mn by 2020. But something that will be even more fascinating to see is how the larger, interconnected Indian market will transform because of these two technologies will enable the ecosystem to deliver content more seamlessly.
On-the-go content availability has considerably enhanced the overall market prospects and accelerated the Indian growth story. And CDN and OTT platforms are like air in the grand scheme of things. Invisible, yet essential. It can hence be said that CDN and OTT solutions are not shaping up in the broader Indian market. Rather, they are shaping it!