scorecardStreaming platforms who are on a new high — are hosting web premiers and might even expand to gaming
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Streaming platforms who are on a new high — are hosting web premiers and might even expand to gaming

Streaming platforms who are on a new high — are hosting web premiers and might even expand to gaming
EntertainmentEntertainment5 min read
  • Even after the record growth witnessed by streaming services in India, the question remains whether these platforms can retain the massive lockdown gains
  • With streaming services under pressure to provide new content frequently and producers trying to not lose money in films, web premiers might be another new normal.
  • Moreover, a KPMG report suggested that OTT platforms should look at gaming as an extension to their ecosystem offerings.
Streaming services are the only bright spot for the millions who are isolating at home during lockdown. With ample leisure time and fewer options, usage of streaming platforms surged.

Most of the 35 streaming giants in India — Amazon Prime Videos, Zee5. Voot, Hungama, AltBalaji, MX Player — witnessed a record growth fueled by quarantine.

The Big Boost
During the lockdown, there was a 265% increase in OTT traffic since February last week — in spite of the drop from HD to SD, according to Internet Exchange operator DE-CIX. The five services that gained the most are Amazon Prime Videos, Netflix, Youtube, Zee5 and Hotstar.

Disney+ — which was launched soon after India locked itself down — added 8 million users within a week. Whereas, Netflix India — which was earlier losing to the homegrown market — too saw at least an 8% growth in Q1FY20 driven by its cheapest mobile online plan at ₹199.

Zee5, a homegrown OTT platform, saw 36% growth during the lockdown. Whereas its foreign arm, Zee5 Global saw a 60% surge in users across the world including the Middle East and Canada. Alt Balaji, yet another homegrown platform, saw a 60% growth in its subscription.

OTT services Change in viewership due to Covid-19
Netflix India +8% in Q1
Zee5 +36%
Hungama Play+20%
Eros Now+70-100%
MX Player130% surge on engagement

A short-term spike or a long-term gain
A Nielsen report predicted that lockdown can trigger a 60% rise in content consumption in India. Even after the record growth witnessed by streaming services in India, the question remains whether these platforms can retain the massive gains post lockdown.

Hence, when Netflix recently said it added a record 15.8 million paid subscribers globally, it also added that it is treating it as “a short-term spike” and the growth will gradually decline.

A KPMG report, however, believes that OTTs are likely to see continued accelerated growth.

"While the same levels of consumption may not be achieved once we overcome this pandemic, there is definitely a new and higher normal that is likely to be established when it comes to time spent on OTT platforms," Girish Menon, Partner and Head, Media and Entertainment, KPMG in India told Business Insider.

Moreover, Menon believes consumers are likely to develop a habit of consuming video online during lockdown which would later drive subscription growth.

However, According to Karan Bedi, MX Player, OTT platforms might witness some immediate dip post lockdown, but the overall base and average time spent would continue the rise.

With shooting of new TV series being delayed and movie theatres closed, services with large, legacy libraries and fresh content, have an inherent advantage.

“A new normal has been witnessed as consumers adapt to the evolving situation of the pandemic. We feel this pattern will stay as it is in the post-COVID-19 era as well and perhaps there will be some incremental change in the overall user growth,” Aparna Acharekar, programming head of ZEE5 India. Ferzad Palia, who heads Voot Select in India too thinks the same.

Rohit Paranjpe who heads SugarBox Networks believes new content will continue to enthuse people.

The pressure on OTT services to release new content more frequently may also go up. Also, OTT players too should not be happy just retaining users and will have to engage them more. Apart from films, KPMG in a report suggested OTT platforms look at gaming as an extension to ecosystem offerings.

“OTT will look to bring their consumer’s value in other areas: from aggregating other third party content providers who are not competing with them to promoting and pushing other adjacent services, like fitness and food delivery apps, and education platforms,” said Lior Friedman, VP - global partnerships and strategy at Amdocs Media.

Directly onto OTT platforms

With streaming services under pressure to provide new content frequently and producers trying to not lose money in films products, web premiers might be a new normal.

Lakshmi Bomb featuring Akshay Kumar might release on Disney+Hotstar. MUBI is premiering Pablo Larrain’s film ‘Ema’ in India, UK and Ireland on May 2. Whereas, Zee5 is also considering premiering movies directly on its platform in the near future.

AB Anni CD will be yet another film to be released directly on Amazon Prime Videos. Akshay Bardapur, the producer of the movie that stars Amitabh Bachchan said, “We didn’t want to keep audiences from watching two megastars. Also, it made sense to recover losses by selling content to the OTT.”

But big-budget movies are preferring to hold back. Recently, the makers of Ranvir Singh starrer movie ‘83 said they will release the film in theatres first even if they had to wait for six or nine months.

“While producers of movies that have a reasonable budget may experiment with releasing movies directly on OTT platforms or opt for a pay-per-view model, bigger films are unlikely to be released until later this year or next year,” says Neeraj Roy, founder and CEO of Hungama Digital Media.


See also: Cinema halls may not open in India until June end
Lockdown Watchlist: Want to binge-watch a show that lasts a week? Try these long-running shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar and others

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