OTT platforms and smart TVs have already begun to alter how the world consumes content, particularly entertainment, in recent years. The pandemic saw the global population confined to their homes, struggling to make the most of their limited resource of time, juggling multiple responsibilities within 24 hours, and the ‘anything, anywhere, anytime viewing’ concept of OTT platforms hit the right chord. Thus, leading to an unprecedented spike in content consumption. For a consumer, OTT brings in many perks, right from the choice of content, multi-screen play, any time – anywhere content, and a lot of personalisation. Moreover, OTT players add co-viewing features such as ‘Group Watch’, which enables viewing the content in sync while sharing reactions via a pre-set selection of emojis. The drift of watching content together is becoming a big part of online hangouts, especially when everyone is confined to the vicinity of their homes.
The increasing penetration of the internet and mobile devices, even in rural India, is playing a key role in the success & driving the future of OTT services. These OTT players are also leveraging distribution deals with telecom operators to propel their subscriber base further. With the rise of 5G, it is apparent that this network will play a huge role in enhancing the mobile experience for users as it becomes even easier to consume content on the go.
How have OTTs shaped the way we consume content?
Although the shift is primarily in the entertainment sector, several others have begun recognising and leveraging the potential of these platforms.
Health & Fitness - Video streaming platforms have entered strategic alliances to cater to the increased demand and emerging audience segments in the health and fitness segment. People can choose the professionals they prefer and at the time of their convenience.
Sports - The disruption of sports broadcasting due to the pandemic has led to significant revenue erosion for operators and cable TV providers. Yet, when social distancing norms have disrupted watching live sports, some OTT platforms have stepped up and emerged as a means of broadcasting the tournaments and matched from all around the globe.
Learning - Be it education or corporate LMS, OTTs have been a boon to distance learning. Combining the OTT and edu-tech has led to a more personalised, learner-friendly, interactive, and engaging material resulting in a holistic learning experience.
Gaming as a new frontier: Now, media companies and OTT providers can look at adding gaming as a potent extension to their ecosystem offerings.
The rise of OTT has led to the phenomenon known as “cord-cutting,” which is the growing trend of customers cancelling their traditional cable and satellite subscriptions in favour of only using these streaming or video-on-demand formats. This alteration emerged in the advertising industry as OTT advertising. User-controlled viewing experiences lets advertisers get in front of the right audiences at the right time. OTT may offer much shorter ads and make them more personalised, which is possible through targeting capabilities like geolocation, demographic data, and device information.
Although things seem to be looking up and bright for the OTT ecosystem, it needs to address some concerns to persevere. Due to the wide range of user demography, OTT platforms must migrate from a one-size-fits-all subscription model to a more diverse subscription model, which caters to the populace of different income levels. For long term benefit, OTT service providers must focus on ad delivery optimisation, targeting their audiences and monetisation tactics to drive revenue rather than locking viewers in a subscription-based model. Another aspect OTT services must cater to is capturing regional markets, which implies more diversified content libraries online than television channels. As the OTT market grows globally, so has the demand for content localisation and access services like dubbing, subtitling, translation, and audio descriptions.
Content is King
Content, as always, is king and will always remain a major driver of consumer growth.With OTT and connected TV users hungrier for content than ever before, brands have been fiercely competing within the increasingly cutthroat market to deliver more for users. The demand for quality content and feature-rich applications is increasing, meaning brands need to innovate to keep their users coming back for more.
At the same time, production houses with immense production experience, knowledge about what content consumers prefer are venturing from linear TV to OTT. Many production houses have already made their content available for platforms like YouTube and have even started reaching out to other rising OTT platforms of preference in India. “OTT is the need of the hour and a silver lining. They are one of the best mediums for storytelling. With digital streaming services, the freedom of imagination has fuelled innovation, and the scope of creativity has widened to a great extent in India. As a producer, I find this very intriguing,” said Mayur Gharat, known for producing Shivamrut & co-producing several other Marathi movies. Considering the daily soaps that still run on the TV screens, certain stereotypes have been ingrained into the minds of the consumers. OTT content, on the contrary, has multitudes of fresh perspectives. That is the major reason for viewers shifting to digital space. The internet gave everyone a voice. OTT gives every creator a presence. “In this ‘new age of storytelling, now my heart is set on producing a web series exclusively for OTT”, added Mayur.
Despite existing OTT content, there’s a growing demand for exclusive and unique content that would keep users hooked to the platform. Exclusive content is turning out to be one of the biggest drivers in the OTT space. Recent years have seen an upsurge of original content being aired on OTT platforms as well. As streaming video companies compete in the Indian market, OTT majors spend considerable budgets on original and region-specific podcasts and content to attract and retain subscribers. Apart from creating original content and facilitating binge-watching, networks and production houses have also begun to see value in getting rights to live events and performances.
As consumers dive deep into binge-watching, advertisers wait for grabbing this opportunity to captivate the audience, production houses, and content creators are coming up with fresh, innovative content… All in all, the OTT ecosystem is thriving. Analysing consumer behaviour statistics to make critical decisions to reach their target audience & keep them hooked can help OTT service providers sustain and accelerate their growth exponentially.