The OTT Battle: The Audience Is The Winner With Competition Increasing It's an exciting time in the OTT space.

By Kabir Singh Bhandari

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It's an exciting time in the OTT space. For actors, a whole world of opportunities have opened up, leading to a burst in the discovery of talent, leading to the establishing of new names as the top brass- whether it be a Jaideep Ahlawat, Panjaj Tripathi and the like. From the audience point of view, they are now spoilt for choice, which platform should they go to? There are the mainstream ones like Netflix, Zee5, Amazon Prime, Disney Hotstar and SonyLiv, market disruptors like Jio and then there are new entrants coming out regularly. Take for example, iTap, which has a mix of content and hypercasual gaming available on their platform, priced at a mere 27 paisa per day.

Zee5 recently announced that they have a solid 111 titles coming up, including the much talked about Manoj Bajpayee starrer Sirf Ek Banda Kaafi Hai, about godman Asaram Bapu, who serving jail time for a rape case. Zee5's core strength lies in regional content, with over two decades of experience in the South and East markets coupled with the library that Zee has amassed over several years. "Being one of India's only homegrown entities, we want to leverage our understanding of India's local languages and be the first mover in that space. Our goal is growth and profitability and ensuring the customers love the platform and our stories. A lot of our consumers come from smaller towns and low bandwidth areas, so a continuous tech solution is to see how the streaming service works seamlessly without buffering," Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, Zee5 India had said recently.

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Amazon Prime, a behemoth in the OTT space, streams in 99 per cent of pin codes across the country. Subscribers look forward the most to their hit originals such as The Family Man, Mirzapur, Made In Heaven and several others that are in the offing. With programming across 10 languages, just last year they launched more than 500 titles on their platform. Sushant Sreeram, country director, Prime Video India spoke at the recently concluded FICCI Frames about how in India there is really no one entertainment preference. "We are incredibly and delightfully diverse in what entertainment means for each one of us. There is really a massive heterogeneity when you think of entertaining all of India. But the thing that unifies us all is our love for entertainment. Being a land of stories and storytellers, India has great mythological stories and the more recent Bollywood blockbuster stories."

And then of course there's Netflix, the ones who started it all, leading to popularly used phrases such as 'Netflix and chill'. Having posted $1.31 billion in profit and adding 1.75 million subscribers in the just concluded March quarter, they are clear about what their goals are. "We want to run a sustainable streaming model and we want to be in business in a way where we declare profits of $5 billion- $6 billion and most of the competitors world over are actually losing $10-11 billion collectively and that is not the way to run a good streaming business," Netflix India's Vice President of Content Monika Shergill had said at the side-lines of an event in Mumbai.

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Kabir Singh Bhandari

Senior Assistant Editor

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