Just 11% video viewership is on OTT: Akamai's Reddy

MUMBAI: Video viewership is growing at about eight and a half hours a month at present, and is expected to double or triple over the next year. However, 89 per cent of video viewership is on YouTube and Facebook, and only 11 per cent is shared among OTT players in India, according to Akamai Technologies country sales manager Sandeep Reddy.

Reddy was the keynote speaker at the Vidnet 2017 meet organised by indiantelevision.com. The theme of Vidnet 2017 was: Will Indian OTT/SVOD live up to its promise?

Revealing more inputs, Reddy said there are 150 million estimated online viewers at a time when the country 'is in the middle of this revolution' and this is bound to grow. The current estimate is that 60 to 65 per cent viewers watch online video in 28 Tier-III cities, and deployment is improving but not at the level of Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. “There is a challenge of reach,” he said.

Building a brand, partnership, reach, scale, and economy are the quintessential parameters to make a successful OTT.

Speaking on OTT and deployment of connectivity, Reddy who has been with Akamai for eleven years, shared his experiences noting that there was deployment only in 25 centres over 15 years.

While referring to the limitations of traditional broadcasting in TV, he said the turning point would be in 2020 when there would be more online viewership than on traditional broadcast TV. Broadcast TV was headed towards online viewership, he said.

The rise of affordable Chinese smartphones in India led to cheaper data plans and reduced the entry barrier, he said, and added: “we are talking about buying smartphones and seeing telecommunication providers increasing their deployments. We are observing huge connectivity, huge deployment, and we are seeing the race going up for the state of internet according to the report what we have published. The speed of the internet is about 2 Mbps in India. We are still lagging behind globally but it is growing and there are 40 per cent viewers over 4 Mbps and that is a sweet spot where you can deliver reasonable video and that’s why people are watching for longer hours”, he said. In this context, he referred to the example of Jio which came with low rate data plans.

Because the number of users was growing, he said there was better connectivity and there were likes of Alt Balaji and Netflix using content specifically made for this audience, resulting in more and more users and that was the opportunity for broadcasters.
With respect to OTT players, he said there were some key success facts for those sitting on the fence. Referring to a previos speaker who had spoken of how Indians will pay, he said they will pay if the content is appealing and engaging. The Indian population/users was ready to pay and that had been seen from the growth of TV, cable TV, and DTH where the subscription is Rs 600 to Rs 700 per month. “One can watch television when a show is being aired but the internet costs much less and one still gets all the content”, he added.

There was a lot of scope to make a good business model here, he said, as with traditional broadcast one did not really know, did not really connect, and used it directly. ”When you are online you have the players that are tracking your every activity, you know which videos are being viewed, you know where exactly the users are stopping, you know exactly how to monetize, where to place your ads. So fabulous monetization models are available’, he told broadcasters and distributors.

Making a point on scale and quality, Reddy said, “We are talking about competing with broadcast television where you have a signal from a tower beaming signal to millions of users. There are no issues, satellites are not strained, but on the internet single user places a load on his system. When you talk about prime time audiences you are talking about India vs Pakistan match at 7pm on Internet. The whole nation is tuned in and so that is a load on the system and there is a challenge one has to deal. Similarly you can offset the system as VOD users are watching at their convenience”.

When competing with TV broadcasters, “Internet works just on the box, the video is clear, it plays perfectly well and it is not so simple as you cannot click on a video, and it needs to play perfectly otherwise it is going to lose the user”. He added that In the United States, “we are seeing about less than 1 second startup time of the video and the estimate is that if the startup time is 3 seconds you are going to lose the audience and we want to be sure that startup time is good. In India we are lagging behind America and Europe. We have got less than 4-5 per cent rebuffer or more than five per cent for our views delivered. So quality, reach, and economy are the factors impacting the success in OTT.”

Hotstar is leading the revolution, he said. They took the plunge and they invested the big bucks, they went out and bought rights for undisclosed amount. The streaming content provider ALT produces its own shows. Sun TV launched its ‘SunNxt’ app a month ago growing some phenomenal numbers,

“The message I want you to leave with is content, which needs to be unique and engaging. Content is king is a cliché but it is true. It is about the brand right now. Anybody in the screen, anybody in the train can watch and their choice is Hotstar. That is the brand proposition they have built.”

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