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#7 Ways OTT is Revolutionizing the TV Viewing in India OTT and VOD are not only changing the way video content is consumed, it's also bringing a television set to each individual's pocket

By Subin Subaiah

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India has always been a single-television household, and, for the longest time, this television was somewhat the nucleus of the family. At any point in the day, each member would gravitate towards the one TV set in the house, and probably watch what either the oldest member wanted to watch, or what the majority decided upon.

Today, an unconventional alternative seems to be emerging for the same entertainment offered by television. OTT and VOD are not only changing the way video content is consumed, it's also bringing a television set to each individual's pocket.

How, you may ask.

If you are reading this piece online on your phone or laptop, try answering these questions:

  • When was the last time you opened a TV guide?
  • When was the last time you fought with your sibling over the TV remote?
  • When was the last time you turned on actually turned on a television?

If you are a working professional, a student, or someone who doesn't own a television set, chances are that you consume most of your shows and movies online. According to the latest FICCI-KPMG report (2017), "urban consumers have been early adopters of video, especially in the age group of 15-34, which constitutes 70-75% of the total internet base." But what makes you want to watch television online? Here are some ways in which OTT platforms are revolutionizing the television watching experience:

  1. Pause. Play. Repeat: OTT services offer a large part of the control of watching, as compared to television. Since the video feed is streamed online, the viewer is no longer within the confines of time slots and can decide how much they want to consume. Missed a TV show? With OTT platforms offering "catch-up" options, viewers need no longer worry about missing out on the continuation of their favourite shows.
  2. Device Convenience: OTT, be its very name, means Over The Top. These services are available across different devices (smartphones, laptops and televisions). According to EY, there were 160 million digital video viewers in 2016 alone and the base is expanding daily. Whether you want to watch a movie by yourself on a lazy day, or spend a family evening with your parents on the large screen, OTT platforms take care of it all – anytime &anywhere.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness:Do you really need to pay for 4 movie channels when you can get all of them for the price of one? OTT platforms changed the concept of making custom packs and choosing channels by providing all content for the same price with their subscription plans. The ease of choosing a platform and paying minimal to get all your shows in one place is making OTTs popular with millennials and the Generation Y as well. With data packs and internet services getting more cost effective, the future for Video-on-Demand platforms online looks bright. According to a Cisco report India will have 829 million internet users by 2021, twice as much as compared to 2016 when there were already 373 million users.
  4. Content from across the Globe: OTT platforms offer a large variety of regional and international options for consumption as compared to DTH services. Many shows air at the same time as they would in their parent country. Language is no longer a barrier!
  5. Watching Sports Made Easy:Remember when people lined up outside television stores to watch the World Cup on their way back from work? From football and cricket to Formula, almost all major sporting events are now available on OTT platforms. According to a report by Scroll.in, online IPL viewership crossed the 100 million mark in 2016. You no longer have to wait for the highlights to catch up on those missed sixes and catches.
  6. Original Content: Not only do OTT platforms provide access to television shows, they also provide a platform for small budget projects and web series. Web series provide content for millennials who simply cannot connect with the daily saas-bahu soaps on television and are hungry for original, Indian content. Apart from shows, OTTs also are also great platforms for stand-up comedians, travel and lifestyle shows and experimental concepts.
  7. Feedback and Chatrooms: OTTs revolutionized the way the consumer interact with their favourite shows. Content makers and script writers do not rely on TRPs alone, but can actually improve on their content by analysing viewer engagement – likes, dislikes, viewership, and comments that offer qualitative feedback. Some OTTs also offer chatrooms where viewers can interact, boosting engagement with the show or movie.

However, attracting & retaining the consumer is key. If we don't have the consumer, who are we even doing all of this for? Most OTT and VOD platforms offer their entire catalogue – including premium content – for a free trial, without even taking the users' card details! And it isn't only limited to families, per se.

In an ecosystem where there's always one person who decides on what everyone will watch on TV, be if the patriarch of a family, seniors in a college hostel dorm, or even a dominating roommate, having the ability to control and access what each person watches, is a welcome change.
Subin Subaiah

CEO, Spuul Global

Subin is an accomplished banker and has held senior positions at leading financial institutions like Bankers Trust Company, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Standard Chartered Bank. He has led and managed sales teams and executed sales strategies in the commercial banking space in every country in Asia and has managed portfolios of over $25bn in assets and $300mm in revenues. Subin is also an acknowledged actor, having appeared in over a dozen TV productions and over 25 theatre productions – being twice nominated for “Best Actor” at the Singapore Life Theatre Awards. Driven by his passion for the arts, Subin set up Spuul in 2012 and has been driving the development of the business and the platform to bring Indian content to users since. His Spuul venture is also based on his absolute conviction that on-line streaming is the pre-cursor to the world of virtual cinema and to this end he is investing his energies strategically to grow and diversify the business.

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