OTT Trends: What India Saw In 2023

OTT Trends: What India Saw In 2023

The OTT industry is poised for further innovation and growth, driven by technological advancements and evolving consumer preferences

Rajat AgrawalUpdated: Saturday, January 13, 2024, 06:48 PM IST
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Pic: Freepik

The Chris Pemberton quote – Customer experience is the new marketing battlefront – seems to be speaking for the rise in OTT trends in the last two-three years.

Few of the trends and statistics that I observed:

Comedy Cafe

Comedy Cafe | Instagram/Ultra Jhakaas

In 2023, Ultra Media & Entertainment launched “Ultra Jhakaas”, an exclusive Marathi OTT platform offering unmatched content and viewing experience Globally. It started with offering 2000+ hours of content across an array of genres like films, TV series, music, comedy, cookery shows, kids animation, crime & Marathi nataks. It also became India’s first OTT platform to exclusively stream Hollywood blockbusters and South Indian films across all languages, dubbed in Marathi. It already had clocked 2.5 lakh downloads by the end of last year. In December, Ultra Jhakaas also launched Comedy Café – a hilarious stand-up comedy show, making it the first ever stand-up comedy show in Marathi in any OTT Platform in India.

For Netflix, India became their fastest growing global market. One of the strong catalysts for this growth was they supplementing their content by offering good quality subtitles and dubs in over 35 languages.

Hindi dominated Indian streaming scene in 2023. It accounted for 40 percent of all views. This trend was despite investments in content in regional languages like Telugu, Kannada and other languages.

Leading OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime have increased their content budgets on acquiring high-budget, star-studded films post their theatrical releases. The rates for such Hindi and regional language films had risen to 125 to 130 crores in this year. This trend has effected acquisition of low-budget films who had below average box office performances.  

Discussions were on at advanced stages for the merger of Jio Cinema and Disney Hotstar in 2023, which is projected to be culminated in early 2024. Their merger into a single entity will offer a unique experience for OTT Viewers in India. They not only will get a wide access to sports like cricket and football, but also to the envious rich stable of HBO, WB and Peacock Hub Content.

The Zee-Sony merger was approved by National Company Law Tribunal in 2023. In the rapidly changing Indian SVoD market, the new merged entity is presenting a strong offering and is consolidating the fragmented market. Zee5 is known for its drama and original productions, with content in 12 Indian regional languages. SonyLIV is one of the most popular sports streaming platforms with rights to events such as the Olympics, FIFA World Cup, and European football leagues and major tennis tournaments. The merged entity will grow its content library to contain almost 6,000 distinct titles making it one of the prominent SVoD Content provider in India.

Prime Video launched Anime Times on Prime Video Channels in India, marking its debut in the country. Over the past few years, Japanese anime culture has gained significant following in India. Anime Times on Prime Video Channels will be expanding their anime programming with over hundreds of hours of movies and TV shows in both recent and classic genres.

With the growing number of OTT platforms, Gamification offered by these platforms were a new way of engaging people and drawing their attention to a particular series. Playing games also didn’t restricted the viewers only to the platforms. It allowed them to control the narrative or the flow of a plot and created a more engaging experience leaving a lasting memory in people's mind. An excellent example of this was the games that have started accompanying the release of every subsequent season of Stranger Things on Netflix, with the streaming giant incorporating 1980s-style arcade games based around the series on its platform. It comes as no surprise that OTT platforms are moving towards gamification, as eSports and hyper casual games are amongst the fastest growing industries in the country. It offers new and unique ways to interact with the TG and create a whole new customer experience.

Few statistical developments:

According to PwC’s Latest Report, titled ‘Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2023–2027: India perspective’, revenue of the Indian OTT market is set to double from $1.8 billion in 2022 to $3.5 billion by 2027. Besides, the Indian market is growing much faster with a CAGR of 14.32% for this five year period, while the global growth rate for the OTT segment is 8.4%.

With new launches from International Players and increasing ‘pay-lite’ options, OTT revenue surged in India to reach USD 1.8 billion in 2022 – over six times the revenue of 2018 and a 25.1% increase from USD 1.4 billion in 2021. In India, the market will continue to grow at an impressive rate of 14.3%, yielding a revenue of USD 3.5 billion in 2027.

Stranger Things

Stranger Things |

The report pointed out that there is huge long-term potential for the OTT and connected TV (CTV) market in India. OTT will also continue to get its additional boost from regional players. This is against the backdrop of these players struggling to get Indians to pay for content now, after enjoying a boom for the past few years. The 60-odd OTT platforms in India are now faced with a challenge: How to scale up their costly content business in the entertainment-crazy but price-conscious Indian market, especially when the viewers are spoilt for choice. 

The average Indian viewer is used to paying around Rs 300 a month for cable or direct-to-home (DTH) subscriptions. But even a top-end telecom-bundled pack of 10-12 OTT apps costs Rs 1,000-1,200 a month. And subscribing even to the top two or three OTT platforms costs upwards of Rs 3,000 a year. And there are around 60 platforms on offer currently. 

The PwC report points out that ad-supported streaming will become the new normal. Revenue growth will be driven by the competitive subscription video on demand (SVOD) sector. However, also the proportion of advertising-supported video on demand (AVOD) revenue is projected to rise steadily. By 2027, AVOD, largely from local and regional broadcasters, will account for 22.3% of OTT revenue, while SVOD will have a 73.8% share.

The year 2023 also marked a significant shift in the way people consume live sports. More and more fans opted for streaming platforms as OTT services offered greater convenience, quality, and variety of content. Some of the year’s biggest sporting events, such as the IPL, world Cup, FIFA World Cup, NFL, and La Liga, witnessed unprecedented viewership on streaming platforms, breaking records and challenging the status quo.

Potential long-term strategies and innovative monetisation models were also and will be a driving factor. Focus on localised and regional content targeting tier-two and beyond demographics and approaches like offering the first episode of original series for free on OTT platforms also gave a boost.

Conclusion

As we bid farewell to 2023, the OTT industry stands at a pivotal juncture. This year’s trends have accelerated the growth of streaming services and fundamentally altered how content is distributed and consumed. The industry is poised for further innovation and growth, driven by technological advancements and evolving consumer preferences. The streaming revolution continues, and it’s more vibrant and dynamic.

(Rajat Agrawal is the Director of Ultra Media & Entertainment Group and the Content Syndication Head for Ultra Jhakaas)

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