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Guest Column: How 2018 could become a landmark year for OTT entertainment in India

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Art imitates life–this oft-repeated saying is particularly suited for the global entertainment landscape at present. The growing penetration of technology in our lives has led to widespread transformation in the way that we consume entertainment and has led to the establishment of over-the-top or OTT entertainment as a distinctive segment in its own right. The last couple of years, in particular, have seen rapid development in both OTT technologies as well as their end-user adoption.

India, as the fastest growing large economy in the world, has been at the forefront of this tech-led renaissance. A recent KPMG report highlighted how OTT video content consumption in India has exploded, accounting for nearly half of the overall data usage within the country. This dominance is expected to grow to 75 per cent by the year 2020, as data tariffs fall and smartphones become more affordable. With the OTT entertainment landscape registering massive growth in 2017, could 2018 become a landmark year for this high-potential space? The following trends indicate that this could indeed be the case:

The rise of regional content

With Indian viewers consuming more online content, OTT has moved beyond metropolitan and tier-1 cities. The increased internet penetration across the country means that more and more consumers from rural and semi-urban geographies are consuming online content. This is driving the demand for entertainment that these users can relate to, that speaks to them in a language that they are familiar with.

Regional content, as a result, is on the rise; studies indicate that 45 per cent of OTT users in India access content in regional languages. Hindi-based content remains popular, but with leading OTT players actively looking to tap into nascent regional markets across the country, regional content is expected to assume an important role in the overall OTT landscape.

Cross-platform OTT viewing will grow

The linear and scheduled content delivery model that traditional TV follows does not suit the evolved entertainment sensibilities and preferences of the new-age, digital-first consumers. They want their choice of entertainment delivered to them at the touch of the button, to be consumed on a device of their choice, at the time that they want to. This is driving the growing adoption of OTT entertainment in India.

But 5-inch smartphone screens can hardly deliver the immersive experience that television enables, which is why some leading OTT platforms are also focussing on enabling a seamless, holistic, and completely native viewing experience across multiple platforms. The increased penetration of smart TVs is marrying the flexibility of OTT content with the richness of wide-screen entertainment. This will allow viewers across the county to get the best of both worlds, and will further entrench OTT’s proposition as the dominant entertainment paradigm in India.

More AR/VR-based content to drive immersive entertainment

There is perhaps no other medium which can deliver the immersion and engagement that virtual reality and augmented reality do. But despite the proliferation of cutting-edge VR-based devices such as Oculus Rift, Microsoft HoloLens, Vive, and PlayStation VR in the market, there is a significant lack of content that can be delivered through it. Most VR/AR solutions are, as a result, restricted to gaming at present. This is set to change in the near future; as more and more content developers and OTT platforms develop the capabilities to deliver content that is tailored for enabling an immersive, engaging, and highly interactive video entertainment experience. This will lead to the evolution in the way the entertainment is delivered and consumed and could end up transforming the global OTT landscape.

l High demand of OTT video advertising

Cutting-edge tech such as precision segmentation, interactivity, data, and analytics enable OTT video platforms to deliver superior ad performances in an immersive and engaging environment. This technological differentiation will drive the popularity of OTT video ads amongst digital marketers in 2018. Recent industry reports corroborate this sentiment. It is expected that OTT video advertisements will continue to play a major role in driving the overall digital advertising landscape, helping it reach revenues to the tune of Rs 15,000 crore by 2020.

Live events streaming

Recent technological advancements have redefined the live entertainment landscape by making it possible to deliver immersive, seamless, and glitch-free online streaming experiences in real-time. Popular sports tournaments are now being streamed live across the world by leading OTT platforms, while other prominent live events such as music concerts are also finding enhanced viewership through the OTT medium. With more and more users looking to catch their preferred live entertainment on the move, we can expect collaborations between IP owners, OTT players, and traditional broadcasters to enable live streaming of major events in 2018.

public://ABHESH_1.jpgThe author is the chief operating officer at nexGTV. The views expressed are personal and Indiantelevision.com need not necessarily subscribe to them.

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