Streaming has become a very important part of living now: Arjun Mukherjee

It’s SCREENXX time again, Adgully’s premiere property for the Video-On-Demand and Digital Entertainment space. In the run-up to SCREENXX 2020, we are lining up a series of interesting interactions and stories on the OTT space and highlighting how this sector is evolving and the consumers’ engagement with the OTT platforms, as part of our ‘Show Time’ series.

In conversation with Adgully, Arjun Mukherjee, VP & ECD, Wunderman Thompson, speaks about the various factors that are fuelling consumption of OTT content. He also adds how the habit and behavioural patterns are going to stay changed forever and why OTT players need to not just live up to their expectations and go beyond them in these times.

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What are the key digital trends that are bringing about a change in content consumption during COVID times?

We are mostly stuck at home even now. And this trend is going to continue with less and less people inclined to step out till better times. What was previously snacking of content has now become binging with enough time on their hands and with hi-speed Internet. And the number of hours spent staring at your mobile phone or bigger screens are increasing day in and day out. With step-out entertainment still on the wane, the people at large can afford to subscribe to multiple OTT or gaming platforms in order to spend their leisure time. What used to be one episode a day, or watching half a movie in normal times, have suddenly become this mad rush to finish any content in super-quick time and jump on to the next. Even if this is because of the times, the way we are watching content, the habit and behavioural patterns are going to stay changed forever. It’s up to the providers now to make the interface easier, churn up more long format content across genres, at quick intervals and cater to different segments of people across regions based on their interests.

Right now, quarantine and social distancing have given birth to virtual tourism, concerts, events, physical and mental well-being through virtual yoga/ exercise and a rise in AR and VR driven engagement. The opportunity is limitless to harness these digital trends and churn out newer content which excite consumers.

How do you see OTT platforms changing consumers’ expectations around the scope and scale of content?

With the plethora of content available now and with the burgeoning number of OTT providers, consumers’ expectations have gone sky high. They can watch whatever they want to, on any platform of their choice and it’s up to the provider to match their expectations. Or they simply switch. Saying this, it is up to each individual platform to create a distinct advantage with their offering or bouquet of offerings. And in the process introduce the consumers to content they are excited about and provides stickability in the long run. Be it live sports or long format mass original content or reality shows or live streaming rock concerts, anything that is well produced and presented and has something new to offer will prove to be an asset. OTT platforms can also target niche consumers by deep-diving into individual categories and genres. Streaming has become a very important part of living now and it’s the right moment to be forward looking, so rather than changing consumers’ expectations, it’s more about living up to their expectations and going beyond them in these times.

How would you map the opportunity vis-a-vis consumer interest in the OTT video streaming market in India?

There’s a huge, huge opportunity right now and a huge gap content-wise in our country. With mobile penetration and easy Iinternet affordability, and the amount of time a consumer has on hand, the opportunity each OTT provider now has is limitless. In terms of the gap, this is a great time to stoke the varied interests of the already interested consumer that is far from filled. Mega movie hall releases have already chosen the OTT way to go, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s work in fiction happening, but if you see the scope of this country, and the interest levels, there’s lots more that can be done which can be region specific.

Where there is definite lag, is when it comes to non-fiction content. In a country that is full of so many dramatic and jaw-dropping happenings over hundreds of years, the amount of non-fiction content being churned out is negligible. And we know the amount of interest good non-fiction content can generate with great production values at par with international standards. There's also an immense opportunity to generate engaging content in more regional languages. Although this is already happening, the scope for expansion of regional content is immense because of the multitude of languages that are spoken in our country.


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