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Beyond the Pandemic Push – How OTT players can build on the momentum

The pandemic period and long months of lockdown which kept people confined to their homes, saw increase in consumption of content mostly on digital platforms. As shootings weren’t allowed, TV soon ran out of fresh content, which made the consumers explore other mediums to fulfil their entertainment requirement – and OTT fulfilled this demand perfectly.

But now as things return to normalcy, there is need to sustain the tremendous growth seen in OTT last year. The panel discussion on ‘Beyond the Pandemic Push – Building on the Momentum’ at SCREENXX 2021 took a look at what kind of growth was seen in the OTT space during the pandemic times and how OTT platforms are strategising to hold on to the large numbers of consumers acquired during this period. Moderated by Shradha Agarwal, COO & Strategy Head, Grapes Digital, the panelists included: Amit Dhanuka, Executive Vice-President, Lionsgate; Chandrashekhar Mantha, Partner, Deloitte India; Gunjan Arya, CEO, OML; Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5; and Siddhartha Roy, CEO, Hungama Digital.

Speaking about the growth in paid subscribers, Shradha Agarwal noted, “There were approximately 41 billion paid subscribers in 2020. While TV gets 63% of its revenues from paid subscribers and 37% from advertisements, on OTT it is the opposite, where 60% of the revenues come from advertisements and 40% of the revenues come from subscriptions. Therefore, customer acquisition is one of the key factors for OTT platforms.”

Chandrashekar Mantha remarked that there were two aspects that drove the customer acquisition costs – first, spends that you incur to get the customers on your platform, and secondly, how soon or how long do they stick to your platform. He further said, “In terms of where OTTs are currently, they are trying to build viewership and stickiness to the platform, so they are incurring a lot of cost in terms of acquiring the attention of the customers or subscribers.”

Commenting on the cost of acquisition, Manish Kalra noted, “The appetite requirement has gone up significantly. I think 2 points are important for getting customers to like your platform – 1) They need to like you, your brand, your platform, and 2) Content is the biggest king, because content in your world is big.” Kalra spoke about how ZEE5 uses a lot of data to identify this taste cluster which is more relevant to this customer base. “For us, two factors which work in our favour are: we are an AVOD platform, by having a lot of content from the ZEE network, we have hundreds of shows or episodes on the platform everyday and that’s where you see the users – around 18 million+. Point here is how to build this platform from AVOD to SVOD by getting them the right inputs, right recommendation and ensure that we convert as many premiums to subscriptions. The second important point is how do we pitch to them – the targeting and the drive,” he added.

Amit Dhanuka added here, “Our global strategy is that when we enter a market, we bring premium curated hero content into the market, but eventually we start padding it up with global content, followed by our Indian Originals.”

Commenting on what kind of content and genres work on OTT, Gunjan Arya said that for this industry observers need to study user behavior and user trends to figure out what’s working or not working and then apply that while creating content for OTT platforms for brands – that has been a common trend across the world. “Initially when an Amazon Prime Video or Netflix came to India, we were one of the first few partners that started working with them, because we are already creating a lot of digital content that consumers were used to.”

Watch the complete conversation below:

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