‘Customer is King’ is an adage that has moved from the hospitality industry to all sectors and now is reflected particularly inOTT. The sector may just do to multiplexes what cable TV and multiplexes did to the DVD segment 10 years ago as it sets its eyes to become a Rs 12,000-crore industry by 2023, up from Rs 2,590 crore in 2018, based on a SBI Research report.
A 2022 BCG report goes a step further to predict that the OTT content market is at an inflection point in India and is likely to reach US$ 5 bn in size by 2023. Amplified disposable incomes, internet penetration into rural markets, and OTT video adoption across demographic segments have been the key drivers of OTT market growth in India.
All this is good news – but as always, the devil lies in the details. As the OTT wars intensify, each fighting for shares of consumers’ wallets, viewers will be spoiled for choice. While good quality content will always win, another significant enabler will be the technology that enables a seamless and well-rounded experience for viewers and redefines what the terms ‘engagement’ and ‘satisfaction’ mean.
For content to truly emerge as king, OTT providers need to escape the restrictions of silos and adopt flexible, extensible and scalable cloud-native technologies that maximize the value of data. Application of AI and ML is helping to drive better personalization by understanding the consumer psyche, offering the right content at the right time., and helping to shape providers’ content acquisition strategies.
As part of the Digital India plan, the government has already been investing in high-speed broadband enterprises to amplify broadband coverage and adoption – both of which are crucial for OTT video success. Affordable high-speed internet has facilitated the doubling of users in the past 6 years – up from 24% to 42%. Therefore, the availability of affordable data has created an alternate medium where consumers can tap into any content, any time, at any place on a device of their choice as per their convenience. With the necessary infrastructure being put in place it is but obvious the sector will grow at this pace.
With dozens of OTT services competing against one another in India, time to market and depth of viewer engagement become critical and set winners ahead of laggards. For technology service providers working with major premium content providers and managing millions of video assets, the focus is to help new and existing services launch and scale globally in weeks and quickly create “daily habits” that build long-term subscriber value. This includes putting into place advanced personalization capabilities, allowing experimentation that can optimize viewer experiences and serve content that meets each individual user’s preferences.
Technology service providers that adopt 100% cloud-based platforms can help OTTs dramatically lower customer TCO and minimize the upfront cost to launch or change and allow OTTs to shift their attention and investments towards innovation and subscriber lifetime value. Advanced personalization can facilitate new ways to serve content that meet each individual user’s preferences. The cloud reduces total cost of ownership, and minimizes the initial cost allowing resources for innovations, marketing and increased subscriber base.
A case in point is Arha Media & Broadcasting Private Limited, which launched its aha 2.0 service in Telugu late in 2021, and three months later launched a Tamil service that uses the same back end. The service has enabled both Telugu and Tamil speakers worldwide to access fast, smooth, smart aha 2.0 experiences across multiple devices including mobiles, tablets, browsers, SmartTVs (miTV, AndroidTV, Samsung, LG, ROKU), and connected devices (AppleTV, FireTV, ROKU); enhanced personalization, customized recommendations, and exclusive content—all supported by flexible monetization options depending on customer preference and profile. Both services use the Quickplay cloud-native, open architecture platform with multiple third party integrations that include Evergent, Appsflyer, and Clevertap and syndications with ACT, Pioneer, and many others.
OTTs are also at the forefront of driving immersive sports and live experiences. The consequent shift to direct-to-consumer models for sports networks, leagues, and teams has opened the door to huge new personalization, engagement, and revenue opportunities.
Technology service providers are being tasked to deliver low latency, broadcast quality streaming of live events, as well as the elements that are critical to live sports success: real time statistics, live-to-VOD, multi-screen, and social viewing, graphic overlays, in-stadium services, a data store and more. It can help deliver sports telecasters with the fastest route to monetization via subscription and pay-per-view models, syndication, support of targeted advertising and sponsorships.
OTT providers also are leaning into availability of multiple offers that leverage the same content and infrastructure to drive subscription and advertising revenue streams. In these cases, subscription VOD (SVOD) and ad-supported services such as AVOD and FAST (free ad-supported television) drive discovery of longtail content within existing libraries, and incentivize subscribers to continue viewing SVOD content that was originally sampled on ad-supported services. This unlocks multiple revenue streams, including merchandising.
In the end, what is important in an era of rapid change is the ability of providers to rapidly capitalize on new opportunities. Providers are recognizing the value of platforms that offer broadcast quality and reliability, that scale horizontally as well as vertically, and can help optimize the revenue opportunity of each consumer in a real-time fashion. These are allowing aggregators and providers to offer unique bundling opportunities that will both further drive the uptake of many of these services while also delivering a revenue-maximizing price to each consumer. The future belongs to players who can ride these trends to enable a new range of virtual channels that take personalisation to a whole new level.
The article has been written by Goutham Vinjamuri, COO and Co-Founder of Quickplay