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Why Innovation is Key For Video Providers in India

Abhishek Sood

Regional Director, South Asia

September 14, 2020


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The OTT market in India has been booming over recent years. Between 2015 and 2019, OTT subscriptions increased 50-fold to reach a staggering 14 million. The growth is impressive and it’s not slowing down; according to the Boston Consulting Group, the market is expected to reach a total value of $5 billion by 2023. This is hardly surprising amidst the fact that internet access has been steadily increasing across the country, especially in remote areas (which were previously characterized by poor connectivity). This is particularly significant as India has so many rural communities, with 48% of the country’s internet users (650 million by 2023) residing in the countryside. Boston Consulting Group also cites rising affluence as one of the key drivers behind the recent growth in OTT subscriptions.

Furthermore, a recent global study by IBM showed that more than 60% of OTT consumers in India have or will replace traditional TV with some form of streaming service - the highest percentage recorded in any country worldwide. The unprecedented video phenomenon and the future potential of OTT in India has just begun to be explored by global players. Whether it is Sony and Viacom’s merger to achieve scale & significance, or Facebook’s huge investment in Jio, we are surely up for exciting times in the Indian OTT space. As a result, innovation will be one of the key drivers to fuel the next phase of OTT in India, not only in bringing global technology to the domestic market, but also in areas of managing costs, scalability, and addressing the ever-increasing appetite for content and user experience. 

Need for innovation

While there is a rising interest in (and willingness to pay for) Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services, it is clear that Advertising Video on Demand (AVOD) is still the top-performing model in India. Consumers are generally not that loyal to SVOD offerings and stickiness remains low. 

If Indian video providers are going to fully capitalize on this increased interest in OTT, they will have to find a way to differentiate and continuously evolve their services. In a recent blog post, Accedo’s Head of Product Management, Markus Hejdenberg, highlighted that the right user experience (UX) is crucial for engaging customers and boosting subscriptions. He also discussed why a good video service needs to constantly be updated, in order to keep pace with changing consumer preferences. 

As consumers flock to OTT services and more video offerings are launching across the region, innovation will be increasingly important for Indian video providers. Whether we’re talking immersive applications or high-definition video, 5G connectivity will play a central role in enabling this evolution.

How 5G will drive innovation

While internet connectivity in India is growing, it is still well below the global average. At the same time, the situation is constantly improving and, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), there were 19.02 million wired broadband subscribers across the country as of April 2020. It is likely that a lot of this adoption was driven by increased home working due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

That said, it is true that the Indian market desperately needs better connectivity, including mobile internet. It does at least look as if that could be on the horizon. A 5G mobile network solution is in progress and should be ready for trials as early as next year. This is significant because 5G networks will vastly increase bandwidth and enable data-hungry, high quality, video applications to be delivered seamlessly. More than that, it will enable the implementation of immersive content, such as augmented reality and virtual reality, which have the potential to bring a whole new element to video experiences.

The study by IBM asked consumers which 5G-enabled features they are the most excited about. Ultra HD video on mobile devices came out top, cited by 57% of respondents. This was closely followed by VR entertainment applications, watching video in 3D, and AR entertainment experiences. Also interesting is the fact that consumers would like to see AR across a wide range of content types. Music and concerts, sports events, movies and series all proved to be popular, with an equal split of respondents highlighting those as interesting areas. 

At Accedo, we generally recommend that AR functionalities are used as an addition to the main video, delivering added-value content that keeps users interested and engaged. The IBM survey suggest that AR can be applicable for a huge variety of genres, helping to deliver truly immersive experiences across a range of use cases and touchpoints.

The way forward in India

India is at an interesting juncture right now. OTT is becoming much more accessible and proving hugely popular among consumers. As better mobile networks roll out, this trend is likely to accelerate further. However, to truly ensure consumer satisfaction and retention, providers need to look at how to increase user engagement. A good user experience and a solid focus on innovation will be key to enabling future growth.

are teaming up with Indian Television to discuss many of the challenges specific to providers across India. Join us on 24th September to gain a better understanding of those pain points as well as the opportunities presented by the fast-moving developments in that market.

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