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Branded content and its marketing is at the center of all chatter across all formats in the media and entertainment industry. While the Indian media and entertainment industry itself is all set to grow to nearly Rs 3.5 lakh crores by 2022, very few brands realise the sheer size and speed with which the OTT segment is growing within this overall pie. This growth presents a significant opportunity that could potentially be lost on brands if they don’t act now.

But how significant is this opportunity actually? Let us consider some data points to convince ourselves of its enormity.

  1. India has close to 180 million digital video consumers with OTT-led video revenue almost amounting to a staggering Rs 2100 crores already. Staggering because that is almost equal to 25% of the overall internet advertising spend!
  2. India already ranks amongst the top three countries with the highest SVOD (Subscriber Video On Demand) base and OTT-led video market is further slated to grow by around 23% CAGR over the next five years.
  3. Commoditisation of internet led by low-cost availability of high-quality data from various telecom providers is a key factor powering this revolution. India ranks amongst the lowest in terms of cost of high quality data and this coupled with availability of high-quality, low-cost mobile device even further powers content consumption on the move.
  4. Led by Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video, OTT platforms have already become mainstream in India. They have already permeated India’s living rooms as well as Indian purses and pockets – with the latter being driven by the growing penetration of mobile devices in the country. 

Clearly, all of the above factors more than hint at an unabated and continuous surge of the OTT medium. That being the case, it is extremely important for brands to get a grasp on what kind of content needs to be developed for these platforms and how different it needs to be versus what has been developed hitherto conventionally. I am putting down some pointers and mega realities that I see and which I believe can help guide this conversation.

For starters, one must acknowledge that content on these platforms is no longer niche. While it may have started that way a couple of years ago when it was still being “imported”, that is far from the case today. Serious investments (financial and otherwise) are being made by various networks and platforms owners to create new content that is localised in context and regional in language. Needless to say, this acts as potent trigger for content adoption across India’s linguistically diverse market. Combined with “Live” sports, locally produced marquee titles are constantly stimulating enhanced content consumption across audiences, genders, market tiers and classes.

The other key and related factor is the increasingly diverse set of options for content purchase – and yes, people are willing to “pay” for high quality content. The available options are best represented by two distinct approaches that have been adopted by two lead players, equally successfully. While Netflix’s plans are relatively more expensive starting at Rs 500 per month, Prime Video on the other hand comes bundled with an Amazon Prime subscription which is offered for the same price, but for the entire year! Plus the Rs 499 per year membership cost also ensures several promotional and preferential offers and shipping benefits to consumers on the Amazon online store.

As leaders, both companies have made it clear that they are preparing for a long term India play, strengthening their capacities by investing in both people and building a long product pipeline. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that while both companies are acquiring rights to the latest Hindi films as well as the existing catalogue of different studios, Amazon Prime Video specifically aims to features many more movie titles in regional languages. Also in terms of original content from India, Amazon Prime Video has already become more assertive, signing up more than 14 comedians for comedy specials in one go and announcing several Indian shows by some of India’s leading film directors, and airing India’s first original web series - Inside Edge.

While Netflix by comparison may seem to have gotten off to a slower start, it too has featured two comedy specials with Indian comics and has launched one web series, Sacred Games (with a sequel to follow), and a couple of upcoming projects - Selection Day and Again. But then Netflix trumps all the services in terms of streaming and user experience. It’s got 4K content, the apps are available on almost all kind of devices, and supports user profiles.

And then, there are other ambitious OTT players who are rapidly snapping at the heels of the top two. Platforms like Voot (with more than 45,000 hours of content), ALT Balaji (32 original shows in regional languages), BigFlix (offering HQ streaming to upto 5 devices simultaneously) and Sony Liv (with unique features like Mood Wheel, My Q and LIV Guru) are invigorating this exciting and yet fluid space with innovations in programming and consumption models.

For the marketer what all of this means is that the ground has already been prepared for the final assault for content to explode on these platforms. The question that needs to answered though is whether some brands are willing to throw their hats into this ring early enough to lead the action or will they sit it out by the ring-side and watch the initiative and the battle being taken away from them. 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)