Trends 2020: Data costs & access to be key drivers of video consumption
Abhishek Rege, CEO, Endemol Shine India, takes a look at the content consumption scenario in India as well as the road ahead for the OTT players in 2020.
What were the few big changes that you think were of importance in 2019 for our industry?
Data access is one of the biggest things happening in 2019-20, which has helped more and more people consume OTT content. What happens when the Rs 92,000 crore tax gets to telcos? We are yet to see the outcome of this regulatory issue. It may stack up the cost of data and make it go back to the old days when data was expensive.
From an OTT subscription perspective, prices are pretty stable and as cheap as they can get, with the exception of Netflix. Netflix has found their comfort level with the mobile-only scheme, but data price is something everyone will have to look at.
OTT players affiliated to networks like SonyLIV, ZEE5 and VOOT are beginning to feel optimistic about the subscription business. VOOT has just launched their premium subscription service, VOOT Select. The question is – how will they remain independent from their broadcast networks? For example, the new TRAI amendment, which impacts the broadcasters, will affect the OTT side of the business. To insulate themselves from regulatory changes, I think we will see a lot more content coming from those platforms. Otherwise, each time there is a problem with broadcast, it will reflect on the OTT business.
How has consumer content consumption changed with variety of regional content and new OTT players entering the market?
We are going to see a lot more OTT players who are stable and ready to play a long term game. The regional play will increase quite a bit this year. Broadcasters have gone regional, because that’s a new growth area for them. OTT need not wait too long to stabilise to target regional audiences. Looking at consumption patterns right now, the habits of linear television programming are still forming in regional areas, so it is a great time for OTT players to come and make an impact. I would love to see OTT players make a strong regional play.
Are you experimenting with new content formats and creating more shows for digital?
As of last year, we had an 80:20 split in the non-scripted to scripted space. In the next two and a half years, we intend to make this into a 50:50 split. At present, we are not running any scripted content on TV, which means we are not focusing on TV soaps. In 2019, our non-scripted to scripted ratio was the same as our content split between TV and OTT, which is 80:20. Down the line, we want to grow both the segments with a focus on scripted content for OTT.
What will be key drivers of video consumption on digital?
I’m sure online video consumption will only go up. The question is – how will subscription video-on-demand and peer-to-peer streaming grow? For example, YouTube is a streaming platform where unless you are using their Premium service you don’t usually download content to watch later. Vis-à-vis since OTT players offer premium content, the download system works. Like I said before, data costs and access would be the key drivers of consumption. In case data prices go up, we will have to closely monitor the download to watch function. For example, people might download content during office hours using office Internet and then go home to watch content.