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Video OTT Trends In The Post-Pandemic World Pandemic-induced OTT boom has forced many platforms to ramp up innovation to gain a competitive edge

By S Shanthi

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As the cinema halls shut and the production of movies and television shows came to a halt last year, people across the world resorted to video OTT content for entertainment. Today, as things get back to normalcy, experts expect a hybrid entertainment play in India. This means many would continue to binge-watch on their favorite OTT platform, but at the same time, the love for movie watching in theatres will not go away.

This will pave the way for many interesting new trends within OTT. For instance, Amazon Prime Video's newly launched bundling option for Indian users to get access to many streaming services is being seen as a way to end the subscription fatigue seen among consumers.

Can Bundling Reduce Subscription Fatigue?

A survey found that 56 per cent of Indian digital consumers subscribe to more than one paid online video service. There are more than 30 serious players in the market. A user can't buy everyone's subscription and so bundling seems to make so much sense from the user experience point of view.

"I definitely believe that bigger players will offer bundling options. This will help immensely, especially for the regional OTT players as this will expose their content and platforms to a much larger audience without having to buy multiple subscriptions," said Mitesh Shah, co-founder, Inflection Point Ventures.

Shah added that telcos have already been doing so for quite some time now, bundling a couple of OTT apps with their plans but they haven't been very comprehensive about it. "They are definitely positioned to do this in the most effective way and should be doing more on this front. SmartTV OEMs are the other players in the mix," he said.

A bundled option reduces the need to download different apps, but some are skeptical about its adoption as one still needs to make separate payments. "Having to pay multiple times in a single environment, in my opinion, is not what audiences would prefer. The better option would be for such OTT players to announce a single package price/offer for multiple apps to the user. The split of the subscription revenue can be worked out internally between the various players. Very similar to the packs which were available for cable television. We all can see the impact of unbundling on the cable business in the last few years," said Saameer Mody, managing director, Pocket Films.

However, bundling of OTT subscriptions saves a substantial amount of money for subscribers as they offer discounts. "Subscribers are less likely to switch service providers if they get their preferred streaming service at optimal costs, discounts including free trial memberships and hence this also serves as a natural customer retention strategy. For major OTT platforms, a significant portion of subscriptions are generated from partnerships with telco and broadband providers," said Chandrashekhar Mantha, partner, Deloitte India.

He added that this is a great opportunity for OTT platforms to reduce their customer acquisition costs as well as retain subscribers for a longer duration. He also believes that it is unlikely that a single platform will cater to all viewing needs as a result it is likely that the current trend of more than one OTT subscription will continue to increase.

"At the current levels of OTT penetration in India, there is a significant potential to grow and hence new OTT subscriptions will also continue to grow. Platforms however will have to come up with innovative customer acquisition strategies and attractive subscription models to capitalize on this opportunity," he said.

Pay-per-use Model And Other Trends

Experts have been talking about the pay-per-use model for the last two years. Will it make more sense than monthly subscriptions? "Pay per use model, will certainly attract customers who prefer to watch only selective content or do not have the habit of binge-watching and are also extremely price sensitive. However, given the current competitive environment on the OTT subscription pricing, there is a significant cost benefit for customers to avail if they opt for monthly, quarterly or annual subscriptions," said Mantha.

This also allows them to binge-watch popular content and snack a variety of other content across different platforms, he added. However, pay per use model may be used by platforms for customer acquisition. But once they are brought to the platform, they will have to eventually push to transition these users to their subscription plans.

Moreover, experts believe that we are only scratching the surface in terms of the growth of OTT and subscription-based content consumption in India. Most of the subscriptions today have come from urban users whereas the next wave of growth will come from rural areas. "Regional content has been evolving at a rapid pace due to new OTT platforms coming in different regions and investing in these markets. This will bring a whole new set of users willing to pay for content on these platforms. The total market size in 2030 is projected to be around $15 billion and most of it will come from regional players and markets. This has also drawn significant investor attention towards this sector," said Shah.

Additionally, the demand for content localization will lead to demand for additional services like dubbing, subtitling, translation and audio descriptions. The global localization industry has grown up to 40 per cent in the last 3 years. It is expected to surpass $2.5 billion by 2021.

There may also be increased partnerships between OTT players. They may share content production, while also continuing to focus on originals. Lastly, the introduction of 5G will pave the way for a more immersive and experiential viewing experience.

S Shanthi

Former Senior Assistant Editor

Shanthi specializes in writing sector-specific trends, interviews and startup profiles. She has worked as a feature writer for over a decade in several print and digital media companies. 


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