With the development and expanding popularity of many digital platforms unleashing the world's second-biggest population, OTT entertainment is challenging traditional television's existing supremacy in India. Digital content consumption is rapidly increasing as a result of accessible internet access offered by low-cost mobile data. The way Indians consume entertainment content has changed dramatically with the move from Doordarshan to direct-to-home. According to Consultancy.in, the OTT market in India has grown from 181 billion minutes in 2016 to 204 billion minutes in 2021. There is no disputing that OTT is gaining ground and to address that, the former CEO of BARC Partho Dasgupta , talks in detail about the rise and expansion of OTT platforms and making content accessible for all Indians. 

With a population of over 130 billion people, over 60 per cent of whom are under the age of 30, and entertainment options, India is a particularly appealing market for both content makers and distributors. For millions of viewers looking for variety and control, the availability of many digital content distribution platforms with high-quality, diverse material and the ability to watch it anywhere, at any time, is a fantastic alternative. Existing content distribution platforms will be forced to evolve or die as a result of the shift in content consuming behaviour. “Ramayana was a huge hit in 1987, but compare it to Squid Game of 2021 and you’ll find that there is a big difference in terms of consumer behaviour, quality, and range,” says Partho Dasgupta BARC, the Managing Partner of Thoth Advisors. 

The pandemic is one of the factors responsible for the viewership surge of OTT. Between January and July 2020, paid subscriptions in the over-the-top market increased by 30 per cent, from over 21 to 29 million. The platforms are most popular among people aged 15 to 35. In India's $27 billion M&E industry, OTT now has a 7-9 per cent market share. However, by 2030, it is predicted to have a market share of 22 to 25 per cent. 

Furthermore, the increased popularity of subscription-based OTT services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ Hotstar can be linked to increased internet and smartphone discernment, as well as improved payment systems. Above all, these companies have invested heavily in content, price innovations, and bundling to develop niche properties. Streaming giants like Netflix, for example, are offering India plans at lower prices than those offered in other countries. According to the CII-BCG research, global streaming giants' Indian pricing plans are on average 70-90 per cent lower than their charges for the US market.

“Despite the flexibility, magnitude, adaptivity, and other benefits, the OTT industry confronts numerous obstacles. Internet limits have begun to create bottlenecks as OTT viewership has grown,” informs the former CEO of BARC, Partho Dasgupta. Notably, high-resolution video data is dealt with by OTT platforms, which necessitates increased processing power, particularly for compression. This requires the purchase of additional fibre capacity, which can range from 10 to 100 gigabits per second. This is compounded by the need for greater energy. Even if it may not appear to be the most crucial component in drawing users, content is at the heart of OTT platforms. It is also true that these services will not be successful in the long run if they are unable to generate and deliver the content that viewers seek.

Also, viewers no longer have the time to sift through hundreds of channels in search of anything they might enjoy. The modern consumer expects to find the information they need after only a few pages of browsing. As a result, it's critical for OTT platforms to improve their content finding capabilities. 

The recent announcement by probably the biggest of them all, Netflix is quite telling. For the first time probably ever it has lost subscribers and that too 200,000 of them. Partho Dasgupta BARC, the Managing Partner of Thoth Advisors says, “It is too soon to tell but if this sustains and becomes a trend then people will question the future of SVOD (subscriber led Video on Demand). Advertising on OTT has to grow faster to recover the investments or else consolidation phase will start.” 

Furthermore, OTT has undoubtedly opened up new avenues for delivering content to audiences in any market. Viewers, on the other hand, have the freedom to choose whatever programmes they want to watch and when, how, and where they want to watch it. The IP technologies that underpin the internet will have to alter as OTT grows in popularity. It is, nevertheless, a significant barrier because scaling these technologies is difficult. As a result, many obstacles remain in this domain, which will continue to grow into newer opportunities in the coming years. 

Nevertheless, the former CEO of BARC Partho Dasgupta believes that the Indian OTT-business has only recently begun to scale up and will continue to be a high-volume market. As more foreign streaming firms enter the Indian market, expect further pricing experimentation and OTT service bundling with mobile data plans. In the coming years, the focus should be on turning profitable and not just chase audiences at all cost before the gold rush ends and we start seeing consolidation.

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