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Challenges faced by the OTT players in India; the way ahead

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MUMBAI: With the majority of the OTT players operating on a freemium model, subscriptions are enjoying a new prominence as a revenue model for digital content and apps. While India saw Ditto TV working on the subscription revenue model, Balaji is all set enter the digital space with its digital platform Alt Digital Media.  

The panel discussion on ‘Cracking the money code- Challenges and solutions for Digital Subscription models’ at FICCI FRAMES 2016 discussed the revenue models and the profit generation formula for this sector. Industry stalwarts included VUClip CEO Nickhil Jakatdar, Nazara Technologies CEO Manish Agarwal, ALT Entertainment chief strategy officer Eklavya Bhattacharya, Eros Digital COO Karan Bedi and Spuul India CEO Rajiv Vaidya. The session was moderated by BBC World News presenter Ros Atkins.

After throwing light on the revenue models that each of the platforms followed, the panellists broadly discussed the revenue models that are followed in India with their positives and negatives and the various challenges that OTT was facing due to certain issues like infrastructure, piracy, etc.

Initiating the discussion with how the 'freemium' model helped the OTT platforms, VUClip’s Jakatdar said, “The thing with such an emerging market is that if you don’t give content for free to the viewers, they will switch to some other place where they are getting it. You need to have content beyond the subscription pay wall. For example, in Malaysia, we found that Korean content works well there and is extremely popular. We got the simulcast content rights for Korea which they had to pay for, but the library content was for free."

He further added that, "We believe in micro payments which means that viewers can pay per content they view.  This means that they can buy data for a single day and don't have to pay a monthly subscription. This is working well for us.”

“Even as we use the freemium model, the free content for is important. If we look at the free content on the platforms as an ad-revenue driver, then we may find it difficult to sustain in this space ,” he further added.

Differing with Jakatdar, ALT Entertainment’s Bhattacharya opined, “I don’t agree that the consumers will move to a different platform if you charge them. That’s going happen if you provide the same content on different platforms. It is definitely a challenge to provide exclusive quality. People don’t want to watch free content. They want to watch good content. The key for such platforms is to target the most loyal audiences and to provide them good quality and exclusive content which they can’t resist to buy. If you are creating content and hoping that you can break-even on advertising, it’s not going to work out. If you are confident about your content, people will definitely pay for it irrespective of the cost. If you create content that the consumers can’t get anywhere, they will come to you.”

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