OTT Platforms Thriving in Price Sensitive Indian Market as Data Penetration Grows

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Netflix, the American streaming service on Monday announced that Jagame Thandiram, a Tamil film starring Dhanush is all set for an “exclusive release” on its platform. The streaming giant with 204 million users across the world said that Jagame Thandiram is “one of the first big Tamil films” set for Netflix release in 2021. Netflix said that Jagame Thandiram will “launch globally in over 190 countries,” with the movie also said to be available in “multiple languages.” The development is on the heels of the Netflix management in its fourth quarter earnings call in January, 2021, highlighting that the Asia Pacific region was its “second largest contributor to growth.”

Streaming Platforms Go Aggressive in India

Gregory Peters, chief operating officer at Netflix in the earnings call in January said that “there are 100 things” that Netflix can and needs to do in the region. The Netflix COO said that it is not about “just one trick or one thing that will basically make us successful in the region.”

“It's a great one where even simple things like we're improving the ability for our members to tell us what languages they want in terms of the content when they're browsing,” Peters said in the fourth quarters earnings call in January. “If you're in a multigenerational household, then all of a sudden, that might shift how you think about like what titles you want to present and what language it is.”

In early December, 2020, Netflix provided access to “millions of people” to its platform for no additional cost through its StreamFest exercise. Initially teased by the company in late October, 2020, Streamfest enabled the Indian users with no active subscriptions to access the platform for free.

Meanwhile, the Walt Disney Company, an American diversified media and entertainment conglomerate in mid-February said in its first quarter earnings call that Disney+ Hotstar accounted for 30% of its global subscriber base. Christine McCarthy, chief financial officer at the Walt Disney Company said that “Disney+ Hotstar subscriber additions continued” its “strong growth trend” largely driven by the Indian Premier League (IPL).

“So just to put it in context, cricket is a very important part of a diversified programming strategy at Disney+ Hotstar,” McCarthy said in the first quarter earnings call.

However, McCarthy said that the platform offers a “lot of other local content that consumers like to view” and that the company made it “economical” for its users to sign up for one-year packs. The streaming platform currently offers two one-year packs including a VIP pack priced at Rs 399 per year and a premium pack priced at Rs 1499 per year. While the premium pack includes the Disney+ content and other English shows, the VIP pack offers the Disney+ content only in the Indian languages.

“So those are some of the things that we're looking at and utilizing to mitigate the churn that one could expect from IPL, but it's a more diversified offering in terms of programming than just cricket,” McCarthy said.

Motilal Oswal Financial Services on Thursday said that the “deep-pocketed” Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney could invest in India for the “long haul.”

“Stronger OTT players – such as Amazon, Netflix, and Disney + Hotstar – could invest for the long haul even without a profitable model in place as it takes time to scale up the subscription and advertisement models,” Motilal Oswal said in a report on Thursday.

OTT Consumption Improves Due to Increase in Data Penetration

The Indian diversified financial services firm said that the OTT subscription market in India was around Rs 2800 crores in 2019 but that the market “doubled” in 2020. Crucially, Motilal Oswal said that the size of the Indian OTT subscription market is set to touch Rs 6200 crores by the next financial year.

“The improving ecosystem of OTT consumption, led by increased digital content and data penetration, is a well-known evil,” Motilal Oswal said in its report on Thursday. “Increasing viewership and the growing size of the OTT market are attracting a strong talent pool and the ability to develop good-quality content, which is creating a strong substitute (unlike TV content), especially in a price-sensitive market such as India.”

The firm said that the theatrical industry in India has “grown at a steady pace” in the past 10 years “despite the advent of satellite broadcasting” and Direct-to-Home (DTH) services. However, Motilal Oswal said that the “contribution of movie theatres in the movie revenue pie” has now “declined” to 75% in India and around 40% across the globe.

“Over time this could diminish the bargaining power of cinemas in India for exclusive screening windows – this trend is already seen globally,” Motilal Oswal said.

Meanwhile, S Sashikanth of YNOT Studios, the company behind Jagame Thandiram, in a release said that Netflix offers a “global reach” as the streaming giant is present in over 190 countries across the globe.

“With the subscriber bases of larger OTT platforms continuously expanding in India, their ability to raise the bid for acquiring digital rights for movie distribution would increase,” Motilal Oswal said. “Moreover, many small- to mid-budget projects would prefer OTT platforms for direct releases.”

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Born in India, Yogesh loves to travel and has lived in multiple countries including New Zealand and Canada. His bylines can be found on various newspapers and blogs throughout the world, including Vancouver Sun, Surrey Now-Leader, Daily Hive , Investing News Network and Rach F1.

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