OTT has emerged as game-changers in the entertainment industry: Vishnu Sharma

Vishnu Sharma, Founder & CEO, Efficacy Worldwide, traces the growth of OTT platforms in India and how the pandemic has further spurred the growth of the number of OTT subscribers. At the same time, Sharma doesn’t see OTT cannibalizing TV viewership, but rather OTT and TV co-existing and being an integral part of diverse households.

Over the top services, also popularly known as OTT platforms, do not need an introduction anymore – at least not for the millennials. Affordable smartphones, high speed Internet connectivity, and reduced data costs have all contributed to the popularity of the OTT platforms. Thus, it is not surprising to see over 40 video OTT players in India boasting of a large number of viewership.

What makes OTT a popular choice?

To have too many choices for entertainment is a good problem to have – as opposed to not having any. The fact that OTT penetrates into various strata of the society, and offers a wide range of genres to choose from makes them the natural choice for most people. There is something for everyone – and more because of the AI that recommends content based on the previous content watched.

OTT platforms are device agnostic. People can consume content anytime, anywhere, and from any device that’s available to them. They’re also in a position to decide the pace that works for them. From being guilty about binge eating to now being guilty about binge watching – we’ve come a long way!

In a price-sensitive market like India, the success of any product is directly proportional to its comparative affordability. Not very long ago, Reliance Jio brought about a revolution in the world of Internet usage and connectivity. That, coupled with competitive prices for OTT services, made a lot of people take a leap to the other side. A lot TV loyalists joined the bandwagon because there was nothing to lose – all their favourite TV content was on OTT platforms at extremely affordable prices.

The raging pandemic has helped further the cause too. When the access to multiplexes, among other entertainment options, was restricted due to Government or self-imposed isolation – people found solace in what made them feel good. The trend continues, as does the pandemic.

Can TV and OTT co-exist?

The arrival of mobile phones definitely reduced the dependency on landline phones – but they have not gone obsolete. People use them for specific purposes and may even prefer them. Similarly, the rising acceptance of OTT platforms does not mean the end of TV. There may be stiff competition in these modes of entertainment, but the sectors they cater to are entirely different. DD Free Dish, for instance, enjoys a lot of viewership in rural India, where about 70% of India’s population is present.

About 65% content from OTT platforms is consumed in rural areas – a transformation we saw with Reliance Jio making Internet accessible to all. YouTube has made the consumption of content readily available to the rural consumers, who may not have discovered the OTT platforms yet. The fact that YouTube comes pre-installed on Android devices and can be used for free, adds up to the viewership. Keeping this in mind, it is only fair for market leaders like Amazon to have invested in collaborations with OEMs and offer their Prime platform as a pre-installed feature on devices.

It is also worth noting that networks like Zee, Star, Viacom18 and Sun have already introduced their own OTT platforms to keep up with the massive competition in the market, and there are many more being launched in the regional space. This ensures that the traditional viewers of TV get access to their favourite content – hassle-free and ad-free.

While penetration of Internet usage in rural India might be a challenge for the OTT services to look out for to some extent, apart from that they have a strong foothold in the market. Consumers have time and again asserted that the demand for good content will always be there – and the platform that provides good content will prevail.

The foreseeable future of OTT

With the global pandemic, which prevented movies to be released in theatres, the distributed OTT platforms marked a sharp rise in the number of subscribers. People who preferred to watch movies on the big screen had to change almost overnight – and that has been beneficial for the OTT biggies. From a safety point of view, people will be wary of stepping out for entertainment for a long time to come. OTT platforms are also gaining a lot of traction for kids’ learning through entertainment, which makes them irreplaceable in a world which heavily relies on screen-based learning. With the leisure, content options, edutainment, and ease of access that OTT platforms provide, they are going to emerge as game-changers in the area of entertainment.


The entertainment ecosystem has enough space for both mediums of entertainment. While the OTT services are becoming increasingly widespread, the traditional TV viewers are loyal to their preferred genres of entertainment. In a nutshell, TV and OTT services will co-exist for at least some time to come, and will be an integral part of diverse households India takes pride in.


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