India is taking to videos and how. According to a recent FICCI–EY report, 500 Mn Indians will watch videos by 2020, with the video segment expected to grow to 74% of all Internet traffic in India by 2019.

To drive growth in India’s highly competitive over-the-top (OTT) video market, Singapore-based video-on-demand streaming service HOOQ is doubling its investments in India. It has also changed its strategy to focus on Hollywood and English premium video content to take on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Zulfiqar Khan, managing director at HOOQ India, was cited in a media report as saying, “We are doubling up on our investments for India. We are investing in content, manpower as well as technology.”

Addressing the change in strategy, Khan said that HOOQ has narrowed its focus on Hollywood and English premium content, and has started phasing out regional and Hindi content. He added that the change in strategy has led the company to revisit partnerships and they are now looking at more partnerships with stakeholders.

Khan said HOOQ’s content price is “a sweet spot” for customers as its subscription costs just INR 89/a month. Its rivals’ subscriptions are priced much higher than this — Netflix charges INR 500 a month for its starting plan, Hotstar charges INR 199 per month, and Amazon Prime Video is available for INR 129 per month.

Khan believes that the Indian OTT content market is cluttered, which poses a challenge but also offers scope to grow with differentiated content.

“Second, every player wants the consumer to pay for content. That’s the biggest challenge on how to get a customer to pay, a small set of people have started to pay — a good sign. The focus is also to provide customers with an easier way to pay. If that means working with a telco or financial partners, we will do that,” he added.
Indian Streams: The On-Demand Video Market

India is estimated to emerge in the top 10 lists in the global OTT market by 2022 with a revenue of with over $803Mn (INR 5,500 Cr), according to the latest report by PwC, an audit and consultancy firm.

Video-on-demand is a growing segment in the country with players such as Voot, Hotstar, Ogle, Big Flix, Eros Now, Ditto TV, Muvi, and Spuul, AltBalaji jostling for eyeballs. There are nearly 30 OTT companies offering on-demand video streaming services in India.

Global OTT player Netflix, which has 5 Mn subscribers in India, has recently shifted its focus to producing localised content. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings recently revealed that the company sees the potential of adding 100 Mn customers in India. In terms of its viewership in India, Reed agreed to the fact that Netflix lags behind the likes of Google-owned free content provider YouTube, and Star India-owned Hotstar, which charges only for premium contents. It also competes with Amazon’s Prime Video in India.

Amazon Prime Video gives users exclusive access to movies, Amazon’s original series, as well as premium content from across the globe. According to global information company IHS Markit, Amazon Prime Video, in its short run of a year, has captured around 10% of the Indian market.

Here are some insights into the video streaming industry in India:

Digital media product consumption in this segment is currently pegged at $1.2 Bn and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 33.5% to reach $3.9 Bn by 2020 in India
Around 40% of total mobile traffic in India came from the consumption of video services in 2015 and is expected to touch 72% by 2020
The value of OTT subscriptions in India is expected to touch $279 Mn (INR 20 Bn) by 2020
A report by Strategy Analytics said India’s OTT video revenue is expected to grow at a CAGR of 30% to reach $2 Bn in 2022, compared with $529 Mn in 2017

Recently, Google’s video streaming app YouTube said that it is looking at launching original content in multiple formats in India. It is starting with YouTube Originals, which will launch with music maestro A R Rahman’s show — ‘ARRived’.

Meanwhile, content players such as Netflix and Hotstar are looking at options to self-regulate their content in India in view of concerns over regulatory uncertainty, unpredictable censorship, and court rulings, which could impact their long-term business potential in India. However, Amazon is trying to dissuade other players to drop the idea, fearing that it will alienate viewers in India.

The self-censorship move shows the seriousness of these global OTT players to continue growin in India and also seek to establish that government intervention is not necessary. Meanwhile, the advent of players like HOOQ is likely to fuel the growing industry further and attract more investments to the sector.



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