After the democratization of 4G data, thanks to Jio, there has been a massive surge in digital video consumption in tier 2-5 markets, said Zubin Dubash Shemaroo Entertainment, COO Digital, Shemaroo Entertainment.
How do you view the evolution of OTT business in India?
I would break up India’s OTT evolution in three distinct phases. The first was habit formation – getting users to move to a new device for content consumption, from TV to digital. The perfect bridge for this was the ‘Catch Up TV’, positioned as ‘Prime Time is now My Time’. The second phase was garnering traffic and loyalty on the platform with a constant flow of known content like cricket, sports, movies, etc. That’s the time OTTs introduced and experimented with originals to lure customers, to make them more loyal and sticky.
With these two phases, there is today an average of 100 Million monthly active users (MAU) on the OTT platforms, mostly on ad-based video on demand (AVOD) and very few on subscription video on demand (SVOD). However, AVOD stays as a traffic guzzler with almost no ROI. The third phase, as I see it, is the phase where you convert your loyalists to paid subscribers, which is why we are seeing a strategic focus on SVOD by all the players.
India’s OTT has largely been a metro phenomenon. Do you think there is a large untapped vernacular language market in tier 2, 3, 4 cities that can be tapped?
Since 2016, after the democratization of 4G data, thanks to Jio, there has been a massive surge in digital video consumption in tier 2-5 markets. My view is that any OTT business not thinking of regional will be eventually left out of the game. ShemarooMe offers an extensive array of regional content catering to Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, and Punjabi audiences are spread across movies, plays, talk shows for the consumers. We have seen 142% viewership growth on our regional content consumption and we are expanding to offer more languages in the future.
How important is it for the OTT players to create content offerings and formats keeping the viewers’ interest, attention span, and watching habits in mind?
Different viewers have different choices and it is very essential to offer customized and curated content as per their choice. We have specialized content categories that include movies, music, devotional and kids content, comedy category to cheer people up during these testing times. We give consumers the freedom to pick and choose from the categories of content and pay for them separately. For Bollywood movie lovers, we have unique content offering – Bollywood Premiere which showcases World Digital Premieres of critically acclaimed Bollywood movies every Friday. We have always seen good engagement and viewership amongst the audiences for this category.