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Indian content producers see uptick in revenues from online video platforms

Investment in local original content strengthens paid subscriber growth

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Mumbai: The production of local originals in India is heating up and giving a boost to the creative economy. Online video platforms are expected to invest heavily into local original content to ensure robust paid subscriber growth.

“The market for digital content has definitely increased,” said Fremantle India managing director Aradhana Bhola. Fremantle India is known for its unscripted TV reality series like "India Idol" and "India’s Got Talent."

Fremantle is a global production and distribution company based in the UK that has created hit reality series "Too Hot To Handle" on Netflix and "Hear Me. Love Me." featuring actor Shilpa Shetty on Prime Video. The Indian arm of the production company has collaborated with YouTube India for two YouTube originals "Hello 2021" followed by "You V YouTube" hosted by actor and cricket presenter Gaurav Kapur.

“We don’t have a formal partnership in terms of some kind of output deal, however, we are working a lot with them (YouTube),” said Bhola.

According to Media Partners Asia, investment in online video content reached $1 billion in 2021. Furthermore, the investments in local content increased from 29 per cent in 2020 to 37 per cent in 2021. Licensed/acquired content accounts for 63 per cent share of investments in online video content.

OTT platform Lionsgate Play, the streaming arm of Lionsgate Entertainment is also launching its first Indian original "Hiccups and Hookups" starring Lara Dutta and Prateik Babbar. Prime Video is releasing the third season of its hit series "Inside Edge." Disney+ Hotstar is releasing its family drama "Dil Bekaraar." Netflix is releasing its comedy "Decoupled" that stars R Madhavan and Surveen Chawla. The space for local originals is heating up.

There is a strong correlation between OTT players who are willing to invest in premium content to service uptake and audience stickiness, according to a study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). “In the last two-three years, the Indian OTT industry has come of age. The subscription OTT industry is growing at a much faster pace compared to the rest of the industry. This indicates a maturing of the consumer who is now willing to pay for specific content,” said BCG senior partner and managing director Kanchan Samtani.

Media Partners Asia vice president and head of India Mihir Shah estimates that if OTT players continue to invest in local content at this rate the subscription video on-demand adoption will grow by four times and reach 224 million subscribers and $ 2.1 billion in revenues by 2026.

The leading OTT players in terms of subscriber share in the SVOD market are Disney+ Hostar (50 per cent), Prime Video (19 per cent) and Netflix (5 per cent). Revenue share of SVOD subscriptions is at 25 per cent for Disney+ Hotstar, 22 per cent for Prime Video, and 29 per cent for Netflix.

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