Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022
Industry leaders share their expectations from the year ahead

Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022

Industry leaders share their expectations from the year ahead
  • As we enter a new year, we wanted to understand what to expect from the Over-the-top (OTT) industry in 2022.
  • In today's feature, we speak to industry experts who share their thoughts on what this year has in store for us.
After 2020 we had hoped that 2021 would bring us some respite from the pandemic. However, things were challenging for a large part of the year. With many of us stuck within the four walls of our house for the most part of the year, OTT platforms sometimes became the only source of entertainment in our lives.

Not only did 2021 see the launch of a lot of big-budget originals on various OTT platforms, a lot of movies like Sardar Udham Singh, Mimi and Shershaah launched on these platforms. Content producing companies put their best foot forward and created award-winning shows that won both commercial and critical acclaim. There has been a visible increase in investments in content production, a trend that is here to stay in 2022 as well.

A recent joint report by industry body CII and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) stated that the Indian OTT sector is currently in the scaling stage with strong subscription growth and high investment in premium as well as original content. The Indian OTT sector is one of the most competitive amongst emerging markets with over 40 players. While there have been debates about more and more people moving away from TV, Mandeep Kohli, Managing Director and Partner, Boston Consulting Group India states that we are still some time away from that happening at a large scale in India. “The share of traditional media is slowly declining with increased digital adoption but there is still high headroom for penetration with only 54% of Indian households having a pay TV connection compared to more than 70% in China. For many households, TV continues to be the center of the home and a significant part of family time,” said Kohli, Managing Director and Partner, Boston Consulting Group India.

The report further stated that the industry is at a scaling stage currently and has the potential to become a $13-15 billion industry by 2030.

To understand what the new year has in store for us, we spoke to a few of the most important voices from India’s OTT industry, along with some of the biggest content production houses. Here is what they had to say about what lies ahead:

Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 India

Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022

The already-growing online media and entertainment business received a major boost with the black swan event that the Covid-19 pandemic was, setting a new growth trajectory in the last year. The audience adopted a more digitally advanced way of entertainment, something that went beyond the conventional mediums, leading to mass adoption of OTT platforms which resulted in a surge in both viewership and watch-time. This pandemic-induced growth in demand for quality content led to an increased focus on storytelling across languages leading to the creation of extensive and expansive content libraries. People also became more open to sampling diverse content from different languages and were keener to opt for the living room experience thanks to the increased adoption of connected devices. This growth of the connected devices ecosystem has made OTT a preferred choice not only for personal but also for family consumption. At ZEE5, we have seen a 3X growth in the viewership on connected devices. The rise in power-packed dynamic storytelling and the rise of connected devices has led to the advent of the ‘Home Box Office’ which is a trend that is here to stay. While we grew 200% this year at the back of an aggressive slate of content line-up and hyper-personalization, we aim to make deeper inroads into Indian homes going into 2022.

Sameer Nair, CEO, Applause Entertainment

Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022

I believe the biggest emerging trend for the streaming industry in 2022 and beyond is the increasing flattening of the Earth, with both geographical borders and language barriers breaking down as internet connectivity reaches the remotest audiences. Our audiences, both local and global, have become smarter, more perceptive and way more critical; this requires us as Content Creators and Distributors to significantly improve the quality of our storytelling, of our productions and of the consumer experience we offer. Authentic, rooted stories that have a universal appeal can and will breakout to reach audiences globally. The more we collaborate with talent from diverse cultures and geographies, the richer we will become as storytellers. The ‘One Planet One Species Shared Cultures’ is an idea whose time is truly upon us.

Divya Dixit, SVP, Marketing & Revenue, ALTBalaji

Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022

With the traditional marketing budgets on a decline and digital and influencer marketing taking center stage, there are many trends, however interrelated, that we will see emerging in 2022. The digital audiovisual industry will explode; according to Bain and Company, India's online video user base has increased to more than 350 million people, growing 24% in the last three years. Influencer marketing will rapidly move to include micro-influencers and not just be dependent on Celebrity influencers, thereby also promoting UGC. Video marketing, live streaming will give rise to Social commerce and tier 2 and 3 cities will claim the growth chart curve. With all these interrelated events/trends triggering off, Users will expect personalized experiences which will be offset by deeper integration of ML, which will give rise to AI usage; however, the world of marketers will also see a more focused emerging curve towards Organic retention – CRM, surveys, retention tools, recommendation cycles, SEO, UI/UX as Google continues the stance of stopping 3rd party cookies by end of 2023.

Manjit Sachdev- Head – Originals, Voot and Voot Select, Viacom18 Digital Ventures

Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022

After an unprecedented 2020, with an acceleration in the growth of OTT platforms, 2021 was a year for creating milestones in curating unique and enthralling stories for the audience. Now as we step into 2022 with hope and resilience, the OTT sector will witness an increase in the demand for personalized and purpose-driven content. Given the increasing competition in the OTT space, staying relevant and purposeful is most critical. Considering the changing realities in today's times, having a purpose-driven story telling approach is the way to go. Content with purpose has the power to travel beyond boundaries, spread values, knowledge and positivity and build deeper engagement with subscribers. This trend will act as a key differentiator in changing behaviours.

Megha Tata, Managing Director, South Asia, Discovery, Inc

Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022

As SVOD continues to grow aggressively, we are seeing an increasing number of audiences now willing to pay for good content. I believe a right combination of compelling content and pricing would be the key in attracting a bigger share of consumers into the SVOD world next year. Also, differentiated programming will add to a player’s competitive advantage in the midst of most mainstream players offering similar content. This is a trend familiar to what we saw even broadcast channels go through. I believe some players will be able to carve out a niche for themselves, while most streaming catalogs will end up resembling each other.

Rishi Negi, COO, Banijay Asia

Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022

2020 was a game changer for the whole world, we strategized a smooth transition to the streaming era and the year 2021 was about sustaining the positive change and envisioning the prospects of growth. With changing narratives and experimental content taking a lead, along with the fact that the data & streaming charges have dropped, has resulted in the content reaching a much bigger audience. I anticipate the year 2022 to be vibrant with original productions, compelling storytelling and some path-breaking performances. Fighting the content inflation with a wide variety of exceptional chronicles intertwined with existing catalog shows in this post-pandemic world, viewers are streaming more than ever. With nominal data plan and streaming charges, content is reaching even the darkest corner of the world. Considering the pace of content transmission, at Banijay Asia, we have become more aggressive towards producing content that delights the heartland of India. We see a hike in demand for stories which are untold, female centric and with CTV on the rise, we anticipate growing interest in regional unscripted content in 2022. While we have seen this trend kickstart already with our Tamil unscripted show The Survivors as it received unparalleled response from the audience and our hinterland drama Matsya Kaand recently crossed a 100M views on MX Player within a month. These numbers affirm that the trendsmap that we're following leads to a sustainable future. Given these past two years have been a real tester, we have pushed through every possible challenge posed by the virus this year and successfully produced shows for the streaming giants and kept the show running. While we have covered grounds with our scripted, non-scripted, international format adaptation, book adaptations, in the upcoming year, we aim to keep up with our pace and keep reinventing our ways. To sum it up, we are thoroughly looking forward to 2022 to be a year full of exciting and enthralling projects to keep our audiences engaged and invested.

Rohit Jain, Managing Director, Lionsgate South Asia and Networks, Emerging Markets Asia

Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022

2022 is going to be an exciting year for OTT players as the content pipeline will be stronger than ever. While the pandemic has leapfrogged growth in terms of viewers and subscription we expect 2022 to further amplify the reach and will witness growth not only in the metros but also in tier II & tier III cities. Today’s viewers are constantly looking for edgy and unique stories. We have always said premium content is the ultimate winner. The OTT industry will have to concentrate on quality content over quantity of content.

Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital Media

Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022

The media and entertainment industry has been making rapid strides in the interior of India. Regional markets are becoming the industry’s point of convergence as the digital infrastructure expands across the length and breadth of the country. Content houses and creators are going vocal through local, thereby, making homegrown, high-quality content available at the click of a button.

Going further, consumption of entertainment, in addition to audio and video, will be extended to varied mediums, such as gaming. As the Indian online gaming sector is witnessing tremendous growth in 2020 it sets a tone that gaming will be the next big thing. The industry will witness a rapid rise in the use of AI and ML to create a customised and personalised experience for audiences. This makes industry consumer friendly; not just that, it helps in massive consumption and double consumer engagement.

Hiren Gada, CEO-Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd

Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022

With regional internet penetration growing at a rapid pace, localization of content and OTT apps are going to be one of the emerging trends to look out for. Content that was earlier restricted to just Bollywood and Hollywood is getting extended to other native languages and it is going to play a key role in attracting new consumers and in supporting other industries such as dubbing and subtitling that will further boost the content bank.

Other than localization, we will also see content being offered across other segments that include devotional, and kids’ categories. As we see new OTT apps being launched almost every month with multiple paying models, the consumers will have more flexibility and power to make their own choices.

With increased smartphone adoption along with affordable data, mobile penetration of the OTT will see more focus. Mobile-centric plans have been introduced by most OTTs today to cater to the Millennials and GenZs who have the hunger to consume content but not the deep pockets to pay. This space will continue to grow with the increased bundling of OTT by telecos. Additionally, the arrival of 5G which is most likely to take off this year will be a game-changer not just for the OTTs but also for the consumers. It will enable faster connectivity, accessibility to content and further enhance the viewing experience with reduced buffering issues, and an uninterrupted real-time streaming experience.

Shailesh Kapoor, The Founder & CEO, Ormax Media

Where the Indian OTT industry is headed in 2022

The last two years have been exceptional for the OTT market in India, aided in no small measure by the lockdowns. As things begin to get back to normal, the question that we will hear a lot more in 2022 is: Where is the next level of OTT growth in India going to come from?

The category has grown at an estimated 30-35% in its user base and more than 50% in paid subscriptions over the last two years. But these growth rates are not sustainable in the long run. Platforms will have to look for offerings that are both compelling and distinctive, to get new subscribers in a category that will continue to grow, but at more modest levels of 15-20% per annum.

Crossover content, be it Indian (such as Jai Bhim) or foreign (such as Squid Game or Money Heist), will play an important role in this regard. The language barrier has been broken considerably by the OTT medium, and with dubbing and subtitles available in many languages for all major shows and films now, platforms cannot stick to single-language, homogenous offerings anymore. We can expect more language-led experimentation, both in content acquisition and presentation."