Smartphones and other digital devices have instigated a new epoch of television/video consumption in India by transforming it into a personal media device. Empowered by on-the-go accessibility and greater control over their viewing experience, digital-savvy audiences in the country are increasingly inclining towards online content platforms over the traditional appointment-based viewing of the cable TV format.
From popular TV shows, movies and music to original, digitally-led, personalized content relevant to the viewer’s specific interests and viewing preferences in the form of videos, web series, and other digital programming options, the internet has made everything possible on digital devices. The entry of multiple players in the sector catering to different niche segments along with seamless access to locally relevant video-based entertainment content has further got consumer eyeballs glued to their digital screens.
Driven by rapid digital adoption, there has been a tremendous rise in online content consumption, not just from the metro cities but even from the Tier I, Tier II cities and rural regions. As mobile and digital devices have made entertainment personal, rural consumers are valuing it a lot over the long gone days when entertainment consumption was more of a community-based exercise.
Video takes flight, especially on mobile
Video streaming has never been this accessible in India, thanks to Teleco’s one-upping each other with competitive plans, free Wi-Fi at select railway stations and the rising prevalence of 3G and 4G technology. According to a report by Cisco, video content will account for almost 50% of mobile data consumption in India next year, and hit 72% by 2020.Looking forward, we can expect video to dominate a larger proportion of the time users spend on mobile, which can offer them the convenience to catch their favorite clips on-the-go.
Aided by dipping attention spans, short-form content is driving digital consumption especially among India’s emerging tech-savvy millennial population, who may be more inclined to watch a video than read a long-form article. Equipped with an understanding of the plus points of video, publishers are not passing up on the chance to pull in fresh audiences. Many have stepped up to build video inventory, creating platforms such as DittoTV, hotstar and Voot – a trend we can expect to see more of in 2017.
Faced with these whirlwinds of change, many publishers may find it difficult to anchor themselves against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving content consumption landscape. But there are several strategies publishers can consider in response – adopting a platform-centric approach to develop content tailored to each specific platform, beefing up content writing teams, and integrating data with technology to speed up and optimize user experience. As we push forward into 2017, new and bright opportunities await publishers that can adapt quickly and strategically to India’s dynamic digital playing field.
4G changed the video consumption pattern
There is greater proclivity among Indians to download videos rather than stream them on both 3G and 4G. Data consumption via downloads is 1.5x greater than streaming on 3G and 1.7x greater than streaming on 4G. This is despite the fact that long form movie content constitutes a negligible part of overall downloads but contributes to nearly 50% of streaming consumption on both 3G and 4G. There is a prevalence of ‘pseudo streaming’ in India i.e. downloading video content, watching it and then deleting it within 24-48 hours. This is largely because Indians dislike interruptions while viewing videos and prefer to download and watch offline.
Data consumption through streaming on 4G is 2.4x that of 3G. Users are streaming 3.5x more long form content (movies) on 4G than on 3G. Therefore, we can infer that better network speed does encourage users to stream more long form content probably for longer periods as well. Download on 4G is 2.7x that on 3G. The delta has equal contribution from movies and short form content. Users not only download bigger files but also more files on account of a better network. Therefore, the ideal starter data pack for Indian consumers, in order to balance their optimal usage with their affordability levels, should range between 250 MB – 500 MB.
Video content on mobile in India registers 30% growth
Hindi content, Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Reliance Jio and online videos have been the hottest content trends of 2016, according to a latest report analysing key content preferences of Indian consumers on the mobile released by UC News, content and news distribution platform that is part of the Alibaba Mobile Business Group.
For Indians reading in English, entertainment content followed by technology and then sports are the most popular categories online. Most popular Hindi-language content is from the Entertainment category, followed by Society and Politics. As much as 73 per cent of online content consumers are tagged under the Entertainment Category with 58 per cent preferring to read social and civil news. 37 per cent of the online content users like to read up on sports, especially cricket.
Sharing more insights, Kenny Ye, GM, Overseas Business, Alibaba Mobile Business Group, said, “With a fast growing mobile internet population, Hindi content consumption in India has taken off in a big way in 2016. Hindi content focused on Bollywood news and celebrities clocked in highest page views and readership on the mobile. It was consumed over two times more than politics and technology content and content with Hindi keywords hit over 8 times more readership than content with English keywords.”
China to have 500mn mobile video streaming viewers by 2020
The number of mobile video streaming viewers will reach 500 million mark in China, generating a market of some $13 billion by 2020. This growth will also put China as the world leader in live streaming market. China had some 770 million 4G subscribers at the end of 2016, with mobile dominating the LTE market having 535 million users. Social networking sites and monetization supported 4G networks are stimulating the live streaming market growth in the country.
Rise of OTT services
As video streaming becomes popular in India, not only are big players like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hotstar investing in it, so are a host of startups. The broadcasting and technology business’s terminology for it is over-the-top (OTT) content — delivery of audio and video content over the internet without a multiple-system operator (like a cable or DTH operator) controlling or distributing the content.
Consulting firm Frost and Sullivan estimates there are 66 million unique video viewers in India, and 1.3 million OTT paid video subscribers. That’s a big market. Startup analytics firm Tracxn estimates there are at least 40 new ventures in the space, and around $30 million have been invested by venture capital firms into some of them. Many focus on short videos. It is easy now to showcase such videos under categories like comedy that have cat videos or baby videos, or cars & bikes or style & beauty tips.
Mumbai-based Dekkho provides short videos of 2 to 45 minutes, from 22 content providers. Founder Vinay Pillai, whose experience includes working for Drama Fever, a video streaming website for Korean shows, in New York, has raised $2 million from angel investors. The platform is ad supported. Pillai says subscriptions may work for long form content, but for ad support, “we need to keep it short.”
Veqta is an OTT platform for live sports content. It launched a free beta app last August, and will formally launch as a pure subscription platform in March. It has raised $500,000 from venture capital firm Chatsworth Management and sports management company ITW Consulting. Founder Varun Mathur says live content has the advantage that there are not enough rights available in the market for sports. “We get the feed from partners like ATP and WTA. So it all boils down to who gets the rights first. Also, while movies and music can be sold on a non-exclusive basis, sports can be sold only exclusively,” he says.