The rise of Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms has had a transformative impact on the larger Media and Entertainment industry. It has changed how we create, distribute and consume content.
The advent of OTT technology marked a clear shift in India’s media consumption patterns a few years ago. Year 2019 witnessed an acceleration in this shift: OTT players offer a wide diversity of content while creating an immersive and engaging experience for consumers.There was a remarkable shift in consumer behaviour.
With abundant choice and seamless accessibility facilitating content consumption on-the-go, binge-watching became a standard. The result is that a large amount of content is now created for its stickiness. OTT platforms also enable targeting the right mix of viewers based on their profiles and viewing habits, helping to build strong customer-driven relationships.
The numbers substantiate the story. The OTT sector in India grew by 59%, according to an EY and FICCI report, aptly titled ‘Billion screens of opportunity’, is set to touch ₹17 billion in FY2019, from ₹13.5 billion a year earlier, and is expected to hit ₹24 billion by 2021.
Undoubtedly, data availability and affordability spearheaded the revolution. From being a data sparse country only a few years ago, India today tops the world in data usage at 9.8 GB per month. Indians are spending nearly 3 hours a day on their smartphones. More than 30% of this time is spent on entertainment.
That is a huge window of opportunity, to offer content that is well-packaged, hyper-personalised, relevant and engaging. It is hardly a surprise that advertising spends are shifting to the smaller screens to tap the rapidly growing eyeballs. As we step into a new decade, here’s looking at the key trends that will shape the OTT industry –
Marketing to the individual viewer
The consumer of content on OTT platforms is an individual. Thus, the key to success is to avoid getting caught up in group think, both in terms of conceptualisation as well as delivery of content. Niche audiences will determine the various sub-genres and quality is paramount. Marketers will need to target The Segment of One.
Building a regional connect, globally
The market for regional language content is growing twice as fast as that for Hindi. OTT platforms must invest in exclusive original content in regional languages that captures and reflects the nuances of the culture it is catering to. ZEE is steadily strengthening its regional content delivery capabilities across 12 languages; adding four new regional language channels this year. At the same time, technology has helped us transcend borders: OTT platforms have thrown content accessibility wide open to global audiences and are getting better every day at ‘glocalisation’.
Keeping it real
OTTs are adopting innovative strategies for content creation through real-time dynamic testing and consumer feedback. We know that ‘app install’ is really where the story begins. From then on, it’s important to keep the consumer engaged with the right content.
New-age technologies are augmenting our capabilities to optimise the customer lifetime value while the consumer gains from the technology-led journey orchestration. Successful consumer engagement over the long term is a function of synergy on both sides – deeper brand connect and stronger affinities.
Getting really, really smart
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are here. AI-driven programmatic ad buying has picked up too. Moreover, Indian OTT platforms have taken the big leap to grab a slice of the global advertising pie with native ad suites. More and such futuristic tech including blockchain will make it even easier to create and distribute content.
This is a trend that has already arrived but holds great potential for further transforming our relationship with content. OTT platforms have the unique ability to offer various interactive elements in the user interface and ‘gamify’ content by taking hyper-personalisation to the next level. And, audiences the world over are loving it. We’re sure to see far more innovative formats, consumer-driven sub-plots and twists to the stories we tell. This will push content creators to be agile in their ideation and light on their feet with regard to delivery.
Unquestionably, the dawn of 2020 is also the dawn of a new era in for the OTT industry. We can safely assert that the first phase of technology adoption is over and we’re now poised and ready to hit the growth phase. Players will need to optimise their business models and strategies, increasingly focusing on driving efficiencies through collaborations and partnerships across their value chains.Ultimately though, it is the brands which enjoy the backing of the consumer that will continue to shine.
The author is the chief executive officer at Zee5, India.