Audience fragmentation is an opportunity for OTT platforms, content creators

MUMBAI: The fragmentation of over the top (OTT) consumers will be a boon for the digital video industry, senior media executives said during a panel discussion titled ‘How Are content Owners Contending With OTT Fragmentation’?

At the session, it was noted that India is an ‘and’ market and not an ‘or’ market. There will be multiple players targeting different segments and geographies. In digital, there will be multiple screens as a family can have three to four mobile phones.

While the presence of multiple screen creates fragmentation this is also presents an opportunity to OTT platforms and content creators that has not seen in the past in a single TV home. The kind of storytelling on the big screen is limited compared to what one can do on digital.

During the panel discussion, Arre co-founder & CEO Ajay Chacko made the point about the potential for OTT original content creation. He noted that there will be a bigger push for quality content on digital. Regional is still opening up when it comes to original content on digital. What OTT platforms are realising is that spending money on customer acquisition is meaningless without also spending money on content. That is a longer cycle value creator.

He said that the family owning multiple mobile phones is itself a huge opportunity. This is an opportunity for individual, personalised programming. A hit show today need not be about everybody in the country watching it. It could target just the 18-24 TG urban male.

He also noted that Arre only creates original content but it has various models. It has its own platform and it also has deals with other platforms. He said that the unit of content is what is driving consumption. People watch shows, movies wherever and whenever. So a show might get five percent of its viewership on Arre’s platform and the balance comes elsewhere from platforms like SonyLIV. He said that there are no super structures that limit people from watching what they want to watch. He noted that having platform partnerships helps monetise content that Arre creates better.

Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) EVP and business head digital Uday Sodhi said fragmentation is good for the OTT industry because it clearly demarcates a consumer habit away from television. So people who want to watch content for the family will be very large TV consumers and that will grow. On the other side, there will be consumers who want to watch what they want. It may not be so much fragmentation on platform but content fragmentation and the ability to watch what you want will be huge.

He said that the factors that define success will change. He feels that one problem that will be resolved is the space on the phone. The ability to host more apps will be solved. As phones become better people will find more and apps on them.

In terms of finding the right content, he thinks that search engines will solve this problem. Platforms, content owners have to throw enough intelligence into their apps into the consumer front ends to ensure that enough optimisation is happening for the consumer and more understanding of the consumer is happening. The ability to understand the consumer and the ability to understand which area he/she is coming from will make the situation better. The OTT industry he said is four years old and it has miles to go. As content proliferates one challenge to be solved is the discovery and search of content.

SonyLIV, he said, likes to collaborate with companies that can create content for the platform. The aim is to be consumer centric and focus on the consumers wants and who the best person is in the industry that can provide it. He noted that Sony’s content also gets consumed on other platforms like telco OTT apps. That becomes an added reach for SonyLIV’s content. It does not see itself being a single destination. It sees its content reaching that many more consumers.

He noted that his channel is among the top 10 channels worldwide on YouTube. On one level, SonyLIV is a platform owner but on another level it tries to see ways in which its content can reach that many more users and help it monetise and scale the business, consumption habit.

At the session, it was noted that a super aggregator that uses related content across platforms will help in this regard where one can navigate content across platforms. Who will do this is the question. Television, it was noted at the session, has a scale feel but digital has an identity feel. Digital has the social media aspect to it which is helping the medium explode.

Discovery India VP, head ad sales, regional clusters business head Vikram Tanna spoke about the three Cs that his company focusses on. The first are consumers who are beyond demographics. They exist in passionate communities. Then content curation is important. Personalisation is an important factor in this arena where there is a problem of plenty when it comes to content. The third C is connect.

A brand needs to make the right connect with the consumer. “You have to connect in their language vernacular, native. It is very important.”

He mentioned the importance of using various touch points that go beyond television like licensing and merchandising, digital. He said that his company’s aim is to do scaled partnerships and be a co-pilot in a partnership rather than a passenger. Scaled partnerships are a different piece when it comes to structure, content and monetisation.

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