How connected devices are shaping the future of entertainment
<p>Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 India<br></p>Zee5
Manish Kalra on the scope of connected devices in the future

How connected devices are shaping the future of entertainment

Manish Kalra on the scope of connected devices in the future
  • The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital adoption in the country and the OTT segment has seen a resulting boom.
  • The proliferation of connected devices is also helping in making the experience more convenient and seamless.
  • Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 India writes how the the connected devices ecosystem, driven by technology presents a huge headroom for growth in the future of media and entertainment.
Technology is a big enabler in our quest to make life comfortable, secure and convenient every day. Indians across demographics are increasingly embracing and easily accessing the advantages of widespread connectivity in their homes. As per 'The Connected Indian Consumer' report 2020 by techARC, we are quickly moving beyond smartphones and are now willing to own other categories of smart devices and gadgets to derive advantages on a wider spectrum serving a lot of use cases. We are leveraging the benefits, connectivity, smartness, and intelligence of other smart devices and gadgets to elevate the overall experience of living and content viewing.

The marriage of content viewing and connected devices
OTT video was born out of convenience in watching programs at any given time on your preferred device – right from your mobile phone to laptop to your smart TV. As the pandemic spread, the need for getting entertained from the comfort of your homes became significant for all of us. With a sizeable range of streaming devices being available at affordable prices to consumers, they are spending more and more time at home and enjoying with family. Smart TVs are quickly catching up in India with very affordable prices, and low cost broadband being the enabler to same. Thanks to the affordable pricing of smart TVs and gain on purchasing power, consumers in India are migrating to a bigger screen with an eye to enhance their content viewing experience.

In recent years, both OTT and connected TV ecosystems have grown exponentially, more recently accelerated by the impact of COVID-19. With the pandemic hitting us resulting in swathes of the population being cooped up inside their homes, we have undeniably been reminded of the demand for connected TV and why providing users with TV applications via the ‘10-foot experience’ is an integral part of any OTT strategy. If telecom providers built an appetite for the voracious consumption of online content, connected television further augmented this appetite to bring the much-missed theatre experience to the living room.

India's video OTT market is expected to grow from USD 1.5 billion in 2021 to USD 4 billion in 2025 and further to USD 12.5 billion by 2030 on the back of access to better networks, digital connectivity, and smartphones, according to a report by RBSA Advisors. At the same time, EY estimates connected television sets to grow to 14 million by 2023 and 40 million by 2025, led by the increase in wireless and wired broadband connections alongside proliferation of low-cost smart television sets. Going by these numbers, it is evident that the future of entertainment lies with OTT and connected TV.

Experience is king
Consumers consume content on a variety of devices, and every step of their journey matters. With the proliferation of content on the OTT platforms, the challenge for OTT players is to ensure an easy and seamless experience. Platform experience is critical as it’s the first point of contact – even before content. The speed and ease with which users are able to stream the content they like, the more likely they are to stay on and come back. OTT players need to keep in mind key parameters, bucketed under hygiene and value, to retain and gain customers. Video quality, start times, low buffering, search, and app start time falls under hygiene parameters and are the most imperative attributes on connected devices. Improving them from time to time is critical for all OTT players. Further, to create stickiness and ensure repeated visits of the consumers, quality of content, frequency of new content launches, the user interface, inside app navigation, recommendations, watchlist are important parameters, which will then enhance overall OTT user experience.

As per PwC’s recent survey, on asking the audience what they liked about their favourite services, ‘ease of use’ was the most influential factor, and ‘I know I’ll always be able to find something to watch’ outweighed the quality of content. This is a testament of the significance of a clean, intuitive user interface (UI) which understands consumers even better than they know themselves. Video streaming services are already gaining ground when it comes to UI; as users shuffle through many options, it will take on increasing importance. The ability to enthral customers and deliver beyond their expectations can certainly be the trump card to winning the battle for eyeballs

Throwing Connected TV advertising in your marketing mix
In today’s hyper-connected, data-rich world, consumers are increasingly demanding brands to deliver more focused, relevant messaging. As a result, advertisers are realizing that in a bid to make a measurable impact, they must shift away from simply competing for attention to creating meaningful, engaging experiences which not only acquire new users but also retain existing ones successfully.

While the pandemic germinated the concept of co-viewing, the explosive growth of connected TV viewership has opened up a power-packed growth success channel for advertisers who want to discover and capture highly engaged, and affluent audiences. It’s a prudent idea for them, therefore, to lean more towards Connected TV advertising as the target audience usually comes with a higher disposable income when compared to other users. Ad spends on connected TV and OTT services are projected to grow from $8 billion in 2020 to $11 billion in 2021 as per the recent PwC report. In a country like India, where smart TV subscription has grown exponentially, advertising on Connected TV is the next big frontier.

Summing up!
The last one year gave a boost and set a new growth trajectory for the already growing online media and entertainment industry. Consuming OTT content on larger, connected screens is a trend that will only continue to grow across the country. As the market expands, there will be more competition to earn consumer trust in OTT and Connected TV space, enticed by great results and low entry barriers. Needless to say, the overall connected devices ecosystem; driven by technology presents a huge headroom for growth in the future of media and entertainment and it’s time that all the stakeholders put in motion strategies to cater to this exponential consumer growth trend.