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Indian OTT content has improved with growth of homegrown content, say experts

With growing consumption of content on OTT platforms – over 70% Indians are watching OTT content for 4 hours, as per a report by Mediasmart – newer opportunities are emerging in this space. It’s a well-known fact by now, how the pandemic period and lockdown accelerated people’s shift to OTT viewing. This transition is seen not just in metros and Tier 1 cities, but Tier 2 & 3 and smaller towns as well. This also led to greater sampling of new genres as well as demand for regional content. Now with normalcy returning, the question is how do the OTT platforms strategise to continue the momentum of the peak pandemic period and what does the future look like.

SCREENXX Awards 2021 - Digital Video Content and OTT Platform, Last Date for nomination extended - Thursday, September 23, 2021 - ENTRIES OPEN

It is seen that even after fresh content returned to TV with the resumption of shootings, OTT viewership has not dipped. OTT platforms and content producers have upped their investment on content to cater to the growing demand.

A recent report by Ormax Media reveals that the Indian OTT audience universe is currently at 353.2 million (or 35.32 crore). This translates into a penetration of 25.3%, which means that one in four Indians have watched online videos at least once in the last one month.

Adgully’s premier initiative – #GullyChat – focused on ‘Putting the spotlight on OTT content’ in the latest episode, which was held on Friday, September 24, 2021. Joining in the discussions were:

Aditi Kanakia, Founding Partner, Abridge Entertainment Ventures LLP

Aditya Gupta, Leadership, Kofluence

Neel Gogia, Co-Founder, Iplix Media

Vikas Agarwal, COO & Co-Founder, Blogchatter

Increase in OTT content consumption during the pandemic, lockdown and Unlock 2.0 periods

According to Vikas Agarwal, COO & Co-Founder, Blogchatter, “Increase in OTT content consumption has been substantial, given that outdoor entertainment has been brought to a complete halt – that time is substituted here. I would say it is still growing, but at a less accelerated rate.”

Aditya Gupta, Leadership, Kofluence, noted, “OTT blew up during the pandemic. Not just OTT, but all forms of digital entertainment. Of course, the subscriber base slowed down in the post-pandemic times and is now back to the normal growth chart. It will be a difficult space going forward.”

Aditi Kanakia, Founding Partner, Abridge Entertainment Ventures LLP, observed that OTT consumption increased drastically in 2020, jumping by 30% in Jan-July. With better network connectivity and people transitioning to Work From Home mode, the pattern has continued in the Unlock 2.0 period as well.

She further said, “Better data packages from service providers and OTT platforms offering affordable plans for handset plans, etc., are encouraging the audience to consume more OTT content. This pattern is here to stay and grow.”

“OTT has witnessed a huge uptick in consumption. It has become the go-to platform for all kinds of content. In Unlock 2.0, we witnessed an amalgamation of influencer marketing and OTT. From Shubham Gaur to Sejal Kumar, creators entered the OTT era,” remarked Neel Gogia, Co-Founder, Iplix Media.

The genres that have gained more traction

Blogchatter’s Agarwal noted, “Thriller and crime across all platforms have picked up. Also, series that have bingeworthy status have seen a new life too. People are also consuming old series like ‘Friends’ as a comfort watch. These series bring nostalgia and a strange kind of mental peace.”

Speaking about the genres that consumers are sampling more, Kofluence’s Gupta said, “Comedy was something that picked up very well. In fact, ‘Schitt’s Creek’ probably became 10x popular because it is a light-hearted fun show to watch.”

“Drama found its footing in India with shows like #Scam1992, #Aashram, #Mirzapur, #FamilyMan, #Arya, #Hostages, #SpecialOps, etc. Comedy, too, has sustained its position with various formats available for consumption – sketches, short-form, stand-up, series, reality shows, etc. There is something for every generation in comedy,” opined Abridge’s Kanakia.

She further noted, “Documentary series is another genre that has seen a rise over the lockdown period. Makers are churning out content that is understood more easily by the audience and active consumption has increased.”

Are OTT players doing enough to invest in standout content?

Iplix Media’s Gogia felt that lately, the Indian OTT content scenario has improved with a lot of homegrown content – from players like Netflix and Amazon Prime launching series like ‘Hostel Daze’ to emerging players like MX Player and Voot launching series like ‘Asur’.

Follow the complete conversation on Twitter – @adgully.

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