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General News Pay TV, AVoD act as barriers to growth of SVoD services

MUMBAI: The online video industry is booming and is poised for growth. It’s expected that in 2020 there will be 500 million online video viewers in the country which is a two-fold increase over 2017.

This will be driven by the growing penetration of 4G internet and smartphone devices in the market.

At the same time, there are some things that the over the top (OTT) and digital publishers would do well to keep in mind.

At the India Video Streaming Forum 2018 featuring that was organised by Brightcove, YouGuv India GM Deepa Bhatia shed light on the key findings of the research on the online video market.

One finding was that the presence of pay TV subscription and the availability of free OTT services are barriers to people subscribing to an OTT service.

She further stated that mobile accessibility and content are the key reasons for Indians subscribing to an OTT service. Trials and promotions which are important abroad are less in importance here.

It is also important to note that international titles and price are an important consideration while recommendations from friends aren’t high up. Clearly, there is a market gap in terms of the availability of desired international content on television.

According to the research, it is important for OTT services to focus on the value proposition that they offer to convert non-users to users.

One main reason for users to unsubscribe to an OTT service is that they run out of content to consume.

In terms of payment, Bhatia noted that subscription video on demand (SVOD) is popular when it comes to accessing movies.

She also noted that two ads in a piece of content are the threshold limit for a viewer.

Indians are most in favour of paying a low subscription fee with some ads. A lesser number don’t mind paying more for no ads. Some respondents want flexibility in the plan.

One positive finding is that the number of Indians who don’t want to pay and who also don’t want to see ads is much less compared to some international markets.

Indians are thus more pragmatic and understand that service providers need to make money.

At the seminar, Syntropic Systems partner Alap Ghosh shed light on why OTT services need to have a strong brand and he offered Netflix as a positive example of this. He warned that if an OTT service does not have a strong brand then the users will end up defining the service and in their mind limiting what the service can offer. He noted that brands last much longer than campaigns. They help consumers understand what the service stands for.

He spoke on sponsorship saying that it happens not to fund Capex and Opex even if one is a nice person. He gave the example of Republic saying that it succeeds on digital in terms of sponsorship because of the brand, a plan and it had existing users. Republic had to reach a certain stage to grow sponsorship.

It got the sponsorship game absolutely right and is one of the few people to have done this. The aim should be to have good, sticky content that has users coming back again and again. Then you create brand saliency. Then reach and frequency conversations start with clients like FMCGs.

He also said that content exclusivity attracts new paying users giving the example of HBO’s Game of Thrones which is exclusively available on Hotstar as an SVOD offering.

Brightcove head of media Asia Greg Armshaw said that television, video content is as popular as ever but broadcast television is broken. Content being consumed on mobile devices is sometimes contrary to how dayparts are planned on traditional TV.

In terms of monetisation for OTT platforms, he feels that the hybrid model is the way to go unless you are a niche offering where subscription works. There are examples of companies who started with advertising (AVoD) and then went into a transaction (TVoD).

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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