Sundays in the 90s meant one thing for children in India – Shaktimaan. From 12 pm they remained hooked to their television screens watching Gangadhar turn into superhero Shaktimaan to save the world. At the end of the one hour show, began the seven-day wait for another episode.
The Shaktimaan generation is all grown up now! The kids waiting seven days for another episode turned into digital savvy adults with greater control on their viewing experience. Like their instant noodles and instant coffees, they want their TV to be instant too. The advent of smartphones and other devices with high internet speeds made this possible transforming the television and video consumption into personal media device. The entry of multiple online streaming platforms further got the consumer eyeballs glued to the digital screens.
Online streaming is gaining ground in India with as many as 30 mobile applications commanding huge viewership. Between Hotstar, Voot, Sony Liv, Ozee, Netflix and Prime Video, an Indian consumer has more choice than consumers anywhere in the world. The revolution began in 2015 with Hotstar which with the right mix of content and technology backed by multi-million dollar marketing and promotion blitzkrieg took the nation by storm.
While Hotstar was the catalyst, the chain reaction was set in motion with the launch of Reliance Jio in October 2016 that provided over 70 million mobile internet users with free hi-speed 4G internet. This not only helped the companies increase time spent by subscribers on the platforms but also added new subscribers. The time spent by viewers on Hotstar saw a two-fold jump to 15,574 million minutes in August 2017 from 4,739.8 million minutes in August 2016 after Jio’s launch started the data-pricing war among telecoms.
The advent of Netflix and Amazon Prime videos added international glamour to the industry. But it is the content that has emerged as the king. Bringing together current TV shows, new movies and live sports on a single platform is fairly unique for a streaming platform even by global standards. This is why Hotstar has surpassed Netflix in viewership ratings as the latter only cover shows and movies.
While Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos are ad-free services, other platforms are dependent on advertising bucks. The advertising remains the preferred medium as evident from the latest auction for IPL media rights where the highest bid for the digital rights came in at Rs 7,800 crore per year, a near eight-fold rise over the Rs 100 crore paid in FY16.
India has a huge market. More than 1.3 billion people will have mobile internet access for the first time by 2020, taking the total to 3.8 billion. Increasing broadband penetration, affordable smartphones, cheap data tariffs had made the service providers brainstorm extensively to retain the customers by meeting the content expectations.
In the hotly contested battle between the service providers, it is the consumer who is the winner, binge watching his favourite show on affordable smartphone with cheap data calling everybody to just Netflix and chill!