From Hotstar, Prime to Netflix: The rise of online video streaming in India

With local and international players giving Indian consumers what they want, the space is poised for rapid development.
From Hotstar, Prime to Netflix: The rise of online video streaming in India
From Hotstar, Prime to Netflix: The rise of online video streaming in India
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Video streaming has been one of the most successful avenues in the Indian content consumption sphere. With prices dropping lower and lower, companies are focusing more on data-mining than driving profitability through their venture. They’re raising capital from international investors and making a huge dent in the Indian content market. 

With companies such as Hotstar and Prime having huge backing, there is no sector left untouched and no content category yet unexplored. From regional content to international movies, online streaming services have been enabling the increasing youth population to explore new cultures through content. 

Companies like Amazon started out with offering video content on demand but have a stark edge over the competition. They’re also in the hardware space, making it easier for them to leverage economies of scale. With the launch of the Fire Stick and TV, they’re making it easier for Indians to search and consume content. There is a vast Indian landscape of people that don’t own a laptop or a Smart TV. This is the perfect device that’s propelled much of what we see in the Indian streaming sphere. 

“We started Prime with unlimited fast delivery and then added unlimited access to Prime Video at no additional cost. Now, the Fire TV Stick transforms TV viewing and makes the Prime experience even better,” said Amit Agarwal, senior vice president and country manager of Amazon India. 

As a result, the Prime video app is among the top five entertainment apps in the country. 

However, leading the pack in this space is Hotstar, which is generally considered to be the most popular streaming app in the country. It has reached the pinnacle of success in the space, with it’s marketing-first approach and providing more options to consumers. Hotstar ensures that it has a wide reach across various content circles in the country. 

The market itself is said to be around $280 million in size, with more than 100 million Indians streaming across content areas. Much of that attention goes to Hotstar, which has about 75 million of those users streaming. With a mix of free and paid content, Hotstar and others are reaching deeper to the Indian consumer. 

Voot, which runs on an advertising-based model, is owned by Viacom 18. Much like the competition it is giving Hotstar, it’s also vying for the top spot. Right now, it is reaching around 22 million subscribers, with its original content and online-only exclusives. 

The streaming industry came to fruition with broadcasting rights. Catching exclusive deals with top-tiered content providers was the key for many Indian brands to flourish. Take Game of Thrones for example. It’s one of the most successful titles created in recent memory, and Hotstar got the exclusive rights to publish their content. Voot, on the other hand, focussed on local integrations with Bigg Boss, MTV, Roadies, etc. so that it could attract the youth of India to watch this content on any device at any location. Voot wanted to solve the problem of accessibility, whereas Hotstar was aiming for exclusivity. 

Alt Balaji has been a truly innovative app in the Indian content space. Not only has it provided consumers exclusive content on it’s app, it’s done so with an edge. The content here is truly youth-focused. This has a bonus positioning factor that attracts younger audiences that don’t typically watch daily serials. This web-series & alt content mashup is a brilliant strategy executed by Alt Balaji’s app venture. 

“For us, it’s original exclusive Indian content which can be accessed on our app only. We have got established TV actors like Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar plus Bollywood actors like Nimrat Kaur and Rajkumar Rao doing shows for us. Our shows stretch across psychographics—related to the tendency of a person to consume content—and across geographies,” said Nachiket Pantvaidya, chief executive at ALTBalaji. 

It’s been a similar story for many of the local players to compete with the big-leagues like Amazon and Netflix. 

Companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime, although international players, have different strategies when it comes to the Indian market. 

Netflix is one of the highest revenue earners in India, while being ad-free. International expansion has been a key focus area for the company, which is testing out new forms of content on its platform. 

“There is no change to that strategy, which has worked around the world. What’s unique about the Indian market is the evolution of pay television. It is extremely inexpensive, and advertisement supported. So, basically everything at home has a lot of ads in it, while Netflix is the only ad free network,” said Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO. 

Streaming does have a long way to go in India but with local and international players giving Indian consumers what they want, the space is poised for rapid development. 

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