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The OTT play is not starkly different from real consumer analytics: Ali Hussein

KPMG in India and Eros Now, last week launched the report, titled ‘Unravelling the digital video consumer: Looking through the viewer lens’. The report takes a deep dive into the consumption habits of the Indian OTT viewers and their content preferences, across 16 Indian cities. 

According to the report, the Indian OTT viewer spends approximately 70 minutes/ day on online video platforms, with a consumption frequency of 12.5 times a week, that is, more than once a day. Viewers are also accessing ~2.5 platforms at a given time. 

The report further states that Original content is fast emerging as an important category and that 30 per cent of the respondents prefer watching content in languages other than Hindi and English. The preference for content consumption is significant in the native languages across large parts of the country, with south India observed to be the most loyal to their native tongue. 

The report also predicts that OTT video could usher in cord cutting sooner than expected; 38 per cent of the respondents could consider cord cutting in the future as they responded to their entertainment needs being fully met online. 

Speaking about the report, Ali Hussein, Chief Operating Officer, Eros Digital, said, “We have done this as a joint collaboration from an international perspective. It was more in terms of going to the customer first. This is the reason we have collaborated with KPMG.” 

Girish Menon, Partner & Head Media & Entertainment, KPMG in India, added here, “Discussions tend to be outside in terms of talking about the industry, the supply side, demand and more data related. The organisations themselves have a lot of data on the consumer angle that’s proprietary to them, therefore, as an outsider perspective, the industry doesn’t really have a view of what’s actually happening on the consumption side. The idea was really to do this report which focuses on the consumption side of things to try and get a slightly better sense about consumer behavior – in terms of what do they watch, where, how and when do they watch and more importantly, what are the decision factors in terms of all the above points that were raised.” 

Adgully caught up with Girish Menon and Ali Hussein at a Round Table discussion held in Mumbai last week for the launch of the ‘Unravelling the digital video consumer: Looking through the viewer lens’ report. 

Has the time come for a stronger differentiation among the OTT players?
Ali Hussein: I don’t think about the differentiation, I think individually each OTT player needs to establish a strategy for what they are doing and why they are doing it. For example, what is Disney versus Hulu looking to do? What is the TG that they are looking to target? Let’s start with the end of the light and walk backwards. All the major broadcasters have invested in this space and it is an expansion of television. The fact is that there is a lot of clutter currently happening at that level in terms of being able to build a consumer brand or a consumer business. 

Girish Menon: When we say differentiation, I think you should also be clear on who you are differentiating with. If you look at television, there are hundreds of channels and fundamentally, all of them are targeting the same consumers. In a situation like that there is no major differentiation in the content that is being offered. The question regarding the evolution of digital platform is ‘Do you need to differentiate amongst other platforms or do you need to differentiate against TV?’ 

Right now what’s happening is the effort to take time away from TV to OTT, because the consumer has limited time available with him. At this point, the major mode of communication is TV, so how would you differentiate? What came out in the survey clearly is that most consumers at this point are using platforms to consume TV content. Therefore, the same level of brand awareness/ differentiation that exists within TV channels is what is existing within OTT platforms at this point. If you link it to another finding, where the consumer said ‘I want to cut the cord’, what will trigger that? It is content which is exclusive. Therefore, people are focusing more and more on Originals, at least from a consumer’s perspective, it is basically if TV doesn’t have this, then he/she will watch it on OTT. Thus, I think differentiation has to be at those two-three levels. 

How do you plan to drive consumers to your platform, is it purely Original content or differentiated content?
Ali Hussein: The fact is that being an independent platform, we also have movies, which contribute to close to about 50 per cent of the viewership. It’s at the top-of-the-funnel access. I am not looking at the middle. Somebody who is watching, say, ‘Bigg Boss’ on TV and is also watching it on the Internet, is highly unlikely to subscribe to it, that’s one facet. The second angle of it is our capability to drive ARPU up with our distribution partners, as we have partnered with all the major telecom players and also players like Tata Sky and Jio. Our distribution set-up is the best in the country. 

The fact that is most consumers have two AVOD apps and one SVOD app. If you are looking at the concept of a ‘Super App’ and if you are able to create the app within the app structure which is within the existing ecosystem, the enhanced distribution as well as monetisation are phenomenal. That’s the reason why we are amongst the better ones in the country when it comes to apps. The technology is one of the reasons why we believe in creating differentiation. The OTT play is not starkly different from real consumer analytics. 

Today, there are over 30 OTT platforms in India, with each one coming up with Original content. What is the strategy required to market and promote this content?
Ali Hussein: We look at the consumer segments and interact with them as to what is the kind of content that they want to watch. We have a very large user base of 155 million registered users. How do you use the existing base to create, what we call, this consumer cohorts? Data is on a constant evolving mode, hence, we have to up our learnings. 

Secondly, look at the larger system. Who are the fringe users on Google, YouTube and Facebook who can potentially go into AVOD or SVOD behaviour. Our continuous endeavour is to slice and dice customer consumption, family consumption, look at those funnels and how we are able to take people along. Marketing and content awareness play a great role. Our advantage is that we make core content in our own studio, we have the expertise of teaching consumers social theory and have the expertise to create viral content within the content to market the product. It is not about just putting up 20 billboards, I think billboards have the maximum amount of attrition in terms of dollars spent on their own. It is about how you are able to create the science behind it and actually drive true consumption. Also, OTT platforms need to figure out how to feed video into other facets for the consumer – such as shopping, e-commerce, search engines, etc. 

Girish Menon: This is basically the second year of digital revolution in India at scale, right before 2017-18. At this point, I don’t think we need to be making the decision on whether there is too much content or too less content, or which platform is differentiating better, which is not. The reality is that the consumers are super hungry for content and there is no shortage of demand for content.

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