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Vidnet2018: Regionalisation, localisation the way forward for the OTT industry

All the experts also spoke about the polarised nature of the Indian market

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MUMBAI: Over the top (OTT) is no more a baby. The ecosystem has been eating and growing slowly, taking centre stage in several media and entertainment related scenarios.

On the stage of Vidnet 2018, hosted by Indiantelevision.com, experts from India’s leading OTT platforms were present. ZEE5 India CEO Tarun Katial, Amazon Prime Video India business director and head Gaurav Gandhi, YouTube India entertainment head Satya Raghavan, Voot head marketing and partnerships Akash Banerji and Hotstar consumer and revenue lead Prabh Simran Singh shared their key learning in a session named ‘Lessons from Battlefronts’.

Moderator of the session, Indiantelevision.com founder, CEO and editor in chief Anil Wanvari made the prelude of the session saying that it has been few years since the OTT ecosystem started in India and how it has been challenging since then. He also mentioned YouTube has been a pioneer much before any other platform. Another leading platform Hotstar came in later. He started the discussion asking market leader YouTube's Raghavan what have been the lessons over the years in terms of consumers, consumption and the way the market is playing out.

While asked what the industry has learnt, Raghavan mentioned a very important point that is obviously putting consumer the “queen” before anything. He shared how consumer taste and presence dictate the core of content.

“Second is that it takes a whole village to build this entire ecosystem. It was only when accessibility opened up and all of us saw that it’s not just that 100 or 150 million people who are out there to consume a content. The depth is just amazing that this country has as evident by television. So when we saw access open up, when we saw consumers coming up from every part of the country, creation started to follow. Today, there are creators on YouTube who are uploading content from over 400 locations in the country,” he added.

Gandhi, now with Amazon Prime Video India, saw the OTT industry very closely since a nascent stage. According to him, people are hungry for good stories and Prime Video goes bigger with every original show. Added to that, he thinks going regional is essential for streaming services given the diversity of the Indian market. He also highlighted the fact that adding value to service makes customers want to pay.

“I think given how diverse we are for streaming, regional is essential. The more you go regional, the bigger counts you get. We have now six languages of content. We have seen tremendous growth there. We have introduced Hindi UI, we will be following up it with Tamil and Telugu very soon. So, regionalisation and localisation is the second big thing,” Gandhi commented.

Agreeing with Gandhi, Katial also highlighted the importance of going more regional and adding more languages to the library. While tech giant Google has been promoting voice search lately, Katial also believed that both in the top and bottom end of the market, searching by ‘type’ is not the way to go. Considerably, ZEE5 has voice search available in 12 languages.

Voot’s Banerji added to these insights that delivering a good viewing experience for consumers is essential along with good content. Banerji also added that as a platform Voot believes that the depth of content in the library is important along with the width.

For Hotstar, live sports has been very critical in building its business. Breaking the myth that sports is a large screen experience, Prabh Simran Singh commented that consumers also love to watch it on the small screen. Rather than screen, moment matters. He also added that uni-dimensional focus on business model helps as Hotstar built both SVOD and AVOD category side by side.

All the experts also agreed on the polarised nature of the Indian market. While there are consumers wanting low bandwidth video, there are plenty of them wanting HD quality video. One segment may fit into AVOD business model, another one for high-end subscription. Smart TVs are emerging as an important device for consumption at the same time with feature phones priced at Rs 1500. While young audience still dominates digital space, consumption of spiritual content in older age group, educational content among kids are likewise prevalent.

“There is no one type of customer, there are so many kinds of customers and it is how we fulfill their desire. The biggest challenge we have is how our storytelling can keep pace with people’s desire and provide the kind of content they want,” Gandhi commented.

However, a comment from Raghavan sums up the most unique nature of OTT industry here. According to him rather than a battlefront, the Indian market is an amazing place to partner and collaborate with multiple players in the entire value chain.

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