Long gone are the days where we had to wait for our favorite movie or serial to be aired on TV. Now viewers can stream the content of their choice in any device from anywhere without any wait or hassle. Thanks to apps like Netflix and Hotstar with which everything is brought under our fingertips. The OTT services (over-the-top) give access to a wide range of content on the payment of minimum subscription. A few factors that stimulated the growth of the online streaming market include the launch of Reliance Jio which gave access to cheap internet, soon to be launched 5G, lack of time and a wish to watch shows at our comfort. Though, we spend most of our time with these apps, less do we know about its competition.
China, which has a huge consumer base, hasn't opened its borders for online streaming apps yet. This made most of the global service providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc to turn their attention towards the Indian masses. As per estimates, the Indian market will be valued at 5 billion dollars by 2023 with roughly 850 million users. The online streaming market is expected to see high growth in the next few years. This is quite a big number. But the market isn’t free of competition. Though the global participants enjoyed a warm welcome they can hardly escape the competition from the regional service providers.
The neck to neck battle
The global service providers can expect a tough fight from regional competitors like Zee5, Voot, Hotstar, etc. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, expressed his plan to invest 30 billion Rupees in India as an attempt to expand its customer base. Netflix has already been sharing the market with another global player, Amazon. India happens to be one of their biggest market other than their home country. But they sure are to get a close fight from Zee5 which is a product of Zee entertainment ltd. It captured about 61 million active users in its initial months. Hotstar which has teamed up with Disney is also warming up to win a fraction of the Indian market. Disney’s Hotstar made its way into the market on the 29th of march. Apart from that, Sun Nxt, Flipcart, Zomato and Apple are also fighting to catch the loyalty of the Indian viewers.
How are they protecting their turf?
Every app was a window to a variety of movies and shows. But each of them differed from each other in their strategies. Price has been a major factor that affected the choice of most consumers. We Indians always expect more for a little. Hence, the regional apps made sure that their price is quite attractive. Hotstar and Sun nxt were made available at 50/month. And Zee5 subscriptions started from 99 with Amazon Prime starting at 129. This pushed Netflix to cut down its prices. Further, it also came up with a mobile pack costing Rs. 199.
Amazon prime focussed on offering exclusiveness to its customers. It streamed the new movies straight out of the theatre as early as possible. A few recent ones include Good Newz and Pati Patni Aur Woah. It also made available old movies under all languages. Amazon also offers prime delivery services and Amazon music which comes as a bundle. On the other hand, Zee5 gave access to all the Zee channels and Hotstar offered all the star channels under control of the consumers. But to capture the Indian audience, the companies had to explore regional content. And as a matter of fact, about 63% of viewers are from urban areas and prefer content in their language. Apart from Hindi serials and movies in other regional languages like Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, etc is also a major key in attracting masses. Hence, the OTT service providers are concentrating on bringing diverse regional content into their platform. Zee5 and other local players were quite covered up in this aspect. Zee5 has its own set of original shows which include Auto Shankar, metal hood and so on. That is when Netflix came up with Sacred games and lust stories which made it into the hearts of viewers. They are also pairing up with service providers like Airtel to come up with new subscription offers. Apart from that, Netflix is also working closely with production houses like Red Chillies and new age directors and stars to generate content that will capture the attention of Indians.
But India is a diverse country with 20+ regional languages, different customs, and traditions. Hence, fulfilling the appetite of such regional viewers can be a real challenge not only to Netflix but to all the local players as well.
What about piracy and torrent?
Piracy and Torrent have been one thing that most movie directors hated the most. But all these streaming apps are quite shielded against the threats of piracy and torrent. The logic is simple. Who will go for a samosa when a whole buffet is offered at a minimum cost? Even if one of Netflix’s original is leaked and is available for free, it comes with other drawbacks. Fear of malware attacks and lack of comfort are among them. Rather than searching through a dozen websites to download the content I want, I can simply pay the subscription and have access to 100s of such similar content.
However, this hasn’t kept the users at bay. The shows and movies of online streaming apps are still facing piracy and torrent problems. Netflix shows are most affected by piracy and password sharing. Netflix might be losing 192 million dollars every month due to this. So the OTT service providers will have to compete not only among themselves but also with piracy and torrent related issues.
Despite the close competition prevailing in the market, Netflix showed a revenue higher than its competitors. It saw a 700% growth in its India based revenue as of 2019. But as the new entrants are gearing up to give a close challenge it becomes hard to hold on to its throne. Soon Reliance will come up with its own OTT services. In August 2019, Ambani expressed his plans for launching the Jio fiber into our homes. With a huge consumer base already in hand, he is planning to give his services as a bundle which will include Tv subscription, high-speed internet and the OTT services. Further, he also claimed that through his “first-day first show” plan the viewers can see the movie on the date of release in their home itself. This will for sure have a great impact on the other OTT players. Will Netflix and Amazon be unshaken by all this? Or the local player will come out to be triumphant? We will have to wait to find out.