• OTT has conquered Indian data space in a short time
  • The diverse nature of OTT consumers
  • The three tiers of OTT platforms

Look around you—everyone is hooked on watching something on their screens now.

In 2018 there was a growth of OTT platforms which very quickly congested the market while 2019 was the year that the OTT space exploded with original content, new partnerships, and getting to know the consumer better. In a diverse country like India, the content needs to be upgraded or improved upon to retain eyeballs or the users will soon abandon the platform especially when the free trial is over. With streaming banned in China, India has become the hotbed for streaming platforms.

While Netflix is the first name that hits the spot in the streaming world for several consumers, other OTT services are catching and the main factor that define these brands is the content they deliver.

The increasing seepage of mobile computing devices has been a significant factor in driving the growth of over the top market. The availability of low-cost smartphones, rising internet, and growing investments in communication network infrastructure are responsible for the increase of mobile computing devices in India. Mobile computing devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets have become the preferred choice for accessing OTT platforms. This has encouraged several market vendors to develop mobile apps for streaming OTT services through mobile computing devices. These apps provide portability, easier accessibility, and better connectivity than websites.

The Top OTT platforms in India till the end of 2019 (in no particular order):

  1. Hostar
  2. Netflix
  3. Amazon Prime
  4. ALT Balaji
  5. Zee5
  6. VOOT
  7. SonyLIV
  8. Viu
  9. Hoichoi

As per user reviews regarding the above apps, Hotstar seems to have a higher percentage of downloads during a cricket season such as World Cup or IPL. The higher pricing structure of Netflix seems to drive out users. Netflix showed a higher percentage of users when Airtel provided three months of free viewing as part of their subscription plan. With Amazon Prime tying up with CBS Access, the viewers/fans of various US based TV shows like Star Trek: Picard, Mom, Young Sheldon, etc., find it preferable.

There has been a concentrated and steady effort by the new players in the OTT space to dislodge the monopoly enjoyed by the above-mentioned platforms. Some of these platforms are: MX Player, ShemarooMe, DocuBay, VOOT Kids, and Facebook Watch.

Few examples of OTTs losing users or failing to find users for the lack of new or better content are BigFlix and Eros Now. Post the porn-ban in India, there has been a slow rise of smaller OTT platforms with cheap production values, tacky scripts, and amateur actors whose focus is on providing titillation for the users. Alt Balaji platform is a trailblazer with this regard. Platforms like Ullu, HotShots Digital, Prime Flix and more have taken up the cue and are regularly producing new content for appealing to new and the retention of old users.

From the content and the type of users the apps have, we can classify the Apps into three tiers: Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3.

Tier 1:

The Tier 1 OTT platforms can be grouped as platforms that have a history of more than one million downloads and the updating of contents regularly. The contents also should appeal to a group of audience who have an interest in global TV entertainments. Platforms like Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime will fall under these categories. With the launch of Apple TV, this platform can also be grouped under this category. The one exception that can be made is the inclusion of the platform Hoichoi, as consumers in urban cities have shown an interest in this platform.

As per RedSeer Consulting report in August 2019, Hotstar had emerged the most preferred OTT platform in India, with 41 per cent of the respondents picking it compared to 26 per cent voting for Amazon Prime Video and 9 per cent for Netflix. Hotstar boasted over 300 million subscribers, compared to 13 million for Amazon Prime Video and 11 million for Netflix.

Hotstar, with its flagship shows from HBO like Game of Thrones, Westworld, etc., has on various occasions enjoyed a spike in downloads and viewership. With Westworld as one of the top followed shows in India and with its third season premiere in March, Hotstar will see a greater demand among the users. With Disney+ looking to foray into the rich Indian market, post IPL in May, Hotstar seems to be in prime position to get ahead of its competitors.

By the middle of 2019, Hotstar had warded off competition from Netflix and Amazon Prime to top the OTT charts.

Tier 2:

The Tier 2 OTT platforms will contain platforms that cater to regional audiences or an audience that enjoys a specific taste of entertainment. Zee5, Voot, Alt Balaji, MX Player and others like the above would fall under this category. The programs like movies, mini-series and originals are regularly updated but they are not enjoyed by a wider audience due to the mature and amateur contents in the program. Zee5 and Voot are mostly consumed by housewives or elderly members in the family.

The growth and ever expansion of Alt Balaji can be classified as a separate study in itself. From the onset, Alt Balaji has shown that the target audience is the rural and the male gender. One of its flagship web series is Gandi Baat which is running into its fourth season. The series was launched in September 2018 and the spike can be seen whenever the new season of the show is released on the app.

Tier 3:

These apps fly slightly under the radar and have attracted only a group of audience that is interested in mature content. Ullu, HotShots Digital and Prime Flix can be grouped under this category. The following apps update the contents almost on a regular basis and this has helped in retention of the audience. Ullu app, launched in 2018 has kept a steady stream of users throughout 2019. The growth of HotShots digital is an interesting story. Not much news can be gleaned from the web regarding the App, while on its website the location of office is in Surrey. Apparently, the App was launched in 2019, and there seems to be a spike in search for the app whenever a new content is added.

The field of OTT is not finite and the list keeps growing with each passing year. Case in point the launch of Mainstream TV (Google Play) and Saina Play, which  specializes in Malayalam movies, web series, and short films.


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