Content discovery has potential to unleash OTT consumption growth

MUMBAI: The over the top (OTT) industry to needs to focus on original content, distribution, personalisation, and enable content discovery as it gears up for the next phase of growth.

The consumption of OTT content has seen a huge jump thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and the sharp fall in mobile data prices after the arrival of Reliance Jio. The OTT industry has already built a strong foundation as it embarks on getting the next billion customers to the digital platform.

‘Capturing the next billion subscribers’ was also the topic of discussion at the Asia Video Industry Association’s (AVIA) The Future of Video India 2019 summit.

Amazon Prime Video India Director & Country General Manager Gaurav Gandhi initiated the discussion by stating that the hunger for content, decline in data prices, multiplicity of screens, and the availability of content through wide distribution is the key to OTT growth. He also stated the focus now should be offering value to customers, ensuring access to content, and enabling ease of payments. Another key opportunity is offering content in the language of the customers.

Discovery Director Digital Business and Partnerships Issac John said that the next wave of new users will come from rural India. He also feels that the next big thing that is going to drive consumption is the short form content. He also stated that the volume and scale of short form content is huge.

He also pointed to the short-form service launched by Discovery called Discovery Plus. It has entered into a multi-year agreement with news and local content discovery app Dailyhunt.

Viacom18 Digital Ventures Head – Advertising Video on Demand Business Akash Banerji stated that India is indeed a price market with 350 million smartphones. He also noted that apart from video other digital businesses online travel, e-commerce, and digital payments will also see humongous growth.

He also said that the OTT business will also need to solve consumer problems to grow. He cited the example of other digital businesses that are thriving because they have solved a customer problem.

In the case of OTT, the industry needs to focus on consumers who are based out of Tier 1 and 2 cities as these will be new audiences who will be joining the OTT bandwagon. He also noted that the mindset of OTT companies needs to shift from urban male centric to tier 1 and 2 cities. Technology will be a big enabler in solving the issues of these new audiences.

ZEE5 India CEO Tarun Katial said video, vernacular and voice search will change the game for OTT players. India, he said, is a unique marker which will have ad-supported models and original content that will go behind the paywall.

Gandhi further stated that content discovery will be a crucial factor going forward from a customer point of view. If the OTT players are able to solve then it will open up a lot of opportunities. The OTT players also need to get act together to get customers to pay for content. People are willing to pay for good content if they see value in it.

Banerji gave the analogy of FMCG sector to drive home his point. He said that product differentiation along with wide availability coupled with strong brand building is the key to success. He also said that content is going to be a key strategic differentiator for all of businesses whether it’s video business or a non-video business.

To bring home the point of allowing access to content, Banerji cited the example of Voot’s partnership with MSRTC wherein content was made available in buses for consumption in offline mode. This gave impetus to gain new customers. Voot, he said, is working with multiple partners within the specific content ecosystem.

Katial stated that ZEE5 has launched Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada packs which gave them good traction. According to him, data, technology and personalisation have a big role to play. Content discovery is the hardest to solve in India with a plethora of offerings.

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