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Guest column: How OTT platforms can keep customer churn at bay

Indian OTT market projected to grow at CAGR of over 30 per cent in next five years.

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MUMBAI: The breakneck speed of OTT growth currently underway across the globe, improvements in internet speeds, and the addition of improved technology have been advantageous for millions of users to gain access to content on the go. The Research & Markets report states that while the Indian OTT video services market is projected to grow at an aggressive CAGR of more than 30 per cent during 2021-2025, this growth is majorly attributed to the Covid2019 outbreak.

And the major catalyst for this meteoric growth has been content and adoption of technology that help provide an enhanced user experience. The viewers during and post lockdown had limited access to outdoor means of entertainment and hence in the quest to find new avenues of entertainment, they’re hooked on for a substantial amount of time on OTT platforms. The highest surge that we witnessed, especially for movies and various TV shows, clearly points out that the onus lies with the platform to deliver the best experience to users and keep churn at bay.

With most of the OTT players encashing on either subscription or ad-monetisation revenues it’s imperative that they know more about the customers in terms of their taste-clusters and demographic classification. Users are looking at value for every buck spent. The key drivers that are going to help platforms to scale up operations and deliver best-in class services are:

1. CDN and cloud technology

Content delivery network aka CDN is the core for any media streaming business and substantial investment and research needs to be done by the platforms on this. The ongoing debate about the multi or single CDN approach is about choosing the right partner given the user base and other contributing factors like internet speed, MAUs, DAUs. And the constant strategy is to tackle the mounting problem of playback time, latency, and quality. Platforms need to create the competitive edge in the industry based on this factor alone when the real-time, in-session, and per-segment delivery is flawless.

As far as cloud tech is concerned, it’s coupled with the consumer’s demands, their applications need to be scalable and flexible. It also helps reduce the cost of ownership of holding on to classic data-centres and on-site manpower to handle the same. Apart from this it empowers the platform owners to address any surge or unpredictable in users and consumption traffic. The cloud management has been boon on technology front not only for OTT but also other industries

2. Personalisation and recommendation techniques

For any OTT player, it’s all about providing better experience to the viewers. Both existing and new players in the OTT space are investing in cutting-edge technologies such as machine learning, AI, deep video analytics, etc to understand their customers and their individual preferences better which will help remain competitive in the market. A strong recommendation engine increases the stickiness of the platform hence reducing the customer churn and maximising revenues. The reco-engines (as they are widely known) help showcase the less explored parts of the vast content library enhancing the overall quality of viewer experience. It will also give OTT platforms a new way to monetise their platforms. The robust reco-engines backed with millions of ML (machine learning technology) user-cohorts help users to explore the depth and breadth of the content library.

3. Efficiency in video compression and caching technologies

To gain efficiency and tackle bandwidth consumption, OTT providers have been innovating on video compression technologies since quite some time. Key improvements such as dual-pass encoding, statistical multiplexing, and software migration have been made to compression technology in order to boost video streaming performance. The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) - is driving the next frontier of video compression and caching enhancements with the promise of faster advancements. AI is being used to achieve better video quality at a given bit rate or even better, achieve a lower bit rate without compromising the segment identity of the video. All the optimizations have been innovated to ensure a seamless, buffer-free video viewing experience for the viewers.

4. Increasing adoption of connected devices across households

Increasing internet penetration with around 650 million users in India is also a major contributing factor to the widespread adoption of connected devices, such as smart TV, sticks and hybrid set-top boxes.

We have feature phones and best of the smart TVs which are being driven by the internet having demolished the iron curtain of content consumption. Make in India campaigns have helped consumers across hinterland have access to information, news, videos, among other things.

Additionally, the increasing significance of smart TV owing to features like ambient intelligence, automatic user assistance, along with the rising disposable income in both urban and tier two cities across India, is further boosting the market growth.

Epic On has been in forefront in driving the above best technological practises and we have been reaping the benefits of user acquisition, engagement and retention. We have been relentlessly working on the tech stack to make it nimble and efficient to make it scalable and dependable. We have witnessed about 4X growth during Covid2019 lockdown times which has set the urgency to keep innovating and awe the users in regular intervals. Our partnerships around 40+ smart TV brands stands testimony to the incessant hustling and improvement we are committed to.

(The author is chief operating officer, Epic On. Indiantelevision.com may not subscribe to his views.)

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