Unprecedented growth in smartphone penetration, availability of cheaper 4G internet, and surge in digital connectivity in the rural parts of the country have resulted in a steep rise in video streaming in India. The increase in video streaming is not just limited to short videos, gamification, etc. but also binge-watching on OTT platforms. Watch time on popular OTT platforms has risen sharply over the past 5 years, which has further got a shot in the arm during the pandemic.
As people were homebound, video consumption increased dramatically. Even, after the suspension of the lockdown, physical interactions and outdoor activities are curtailed, which makes the OTT platform a popular source of entertainment. There is also a dearth of fresh content on General Entertainment Channels (GEC), which is driving consumption on OTT platforms.
At present, there are more than 300 million paid subscribers of OTT platforms in India. Presently there are around ~ 40 OTT platforms, a steep rise compared to 2012 when the country had just 2 platforms.
The growth in the popularity of the OTT platforms in India is not just pinned on India's rapidly evolving digital infrastructure and the growing home-bound culture. Over the years, OTT platforms have also built their reputation as a source of enhanced entertainment. OTTs offer original, exclusive, and better-quality content. It offers increased bandwidth to content producers, and creative professionals to experiment.
Moreover, they offer a seamless platform for users to access a host of content on a single platform. Users can watch whenever and from wherever they feel like.
Earlier most of the movies were released in theatres followed by an OTT release. However, the uptrend of direct-to-digital releases is becoming popular. Increasingly big stars are also becoming platform-agnostic and leveraging the growing power of OTT platforms to reach the masses.
As the popularity is on an upswing, the competition is also intensifying. International OTT players such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+Hotstar are amongst popular OTT channels in India. These platforms offer both curated as well original content. India's broadcasters are also deploying their OTT platforms such as Alt Balaji, Sony Liv, Voot, Eros Now, etc.
Meanwhile, regional OTT platforms are becoming popular underlining the expansion of digital connectivity in Tier 2 & 3 cities and rural India. As rural India accounts for more than 60% of the current content consumption, the popularity of regional platforms is bound to rise.
Network providers are also trying to consolidate their position in the evolving ecosystem. OTT services are now bundled with data packages. Jio has recently launched Jio TV, which aggregates content from 12 popular OTT platforms for Jio users. Device manufactures are also riding the OTT wave. Samsung has launched Samsung TV+, which is available on Samsung smart TVs manufactured b/w 2017-21. Apple TV initially had a minuscule share in the OTT market. However, now it is made available on android devices as well, making it an emerging player in the space.
Additionally, the growing Smart TV market in India will add to the upcycle in OTT demand. Increasingly people now prefer to watch videos on the bigger screen, which has given a boost to the growth of smart TVs in India. Smart TV and OTT will feed into each other's demand. As smartphone device manufacturers such as Nokia, One Plus, Xiaomi, etc. have also ventured into Smart TV manufacturing, prices have reduced in the last 3 years. This is also a positive sign for the future of OTT in India.