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Regional OTT players veer towards aggregation model

400 million consumers will consume content via telco and aggregator bundles by 2025, says E&Y.

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Mumbai: With 53 over-the-top platforms (OTT) offering video, music, gaming and news content in India, regional and niche OTT platforms are veering towards an aggregation driven model to grow revenues. A report by E&Y stated that 400 million consumers will consume content via telco and aggregator bundles by 2025 as data prices increase.  

Video aggregators such as Amazon Prime Video Channels, JioTV+, Tata Sky Binge and telcos have become important drivers for regional and nice OTT platforms to reach a wider audience. As per E&Y report, 85 per cent of viewership volumes of certain OTT platforms were generated by telcos.

“We believe that top three-four aggregators would dominate the market,” observed Hoichoi chief operating officer Soumya Mukherjee. “While it is difficult to predict the future, it does seem that regional OTT is heading towards an aggregation model. That’s because it takes a lot of investment and time for any player to enter the regional space.”

Bengali OTT player hoichoi is a successful example of a regional OTT player that has grown its subscription base, majorly driven by content. In its three years in the market, the platform has released over 100 original web series and many films.

“There were two inflection points in the history of OTT. First when the Jio revolution took place in 2016 and data became really cheap. The second was in 2020 when Covid-19 happened and the OTT industry got a boost,” said ViewLift director sales – APAC and EMEA Manish Manwani.

When major OTT platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Zee5 began investing in regional content pieces, it expanded the market for regional content.

“When these big players entered the OTT market with their regional content, we realised there is a market out there,” said Oho Gujarati and CineMan Productions founder Abhishek Jain. “When bigger platforms are marketing their regional content, it is indirectly having a positive impact on us because our library of content is much bigger.”

Last year was a fantastic period for the growth of regional original content. According to E&Y, 47 per cent of OTT originals and 69 per cent of films released on streaming platforms were in regional languages (non-Hindi).

The challenge for regional OTT platforms is that most of their budgets are spent on creating content with little left over for marketing. According to Hoichoi's Mukherjee, 60 per cent of the company’s P&L goes into producing content with little to no advertising. While hoichoi has become an established brand in the Bengali market, it is tougher for other regional OTT players.

“In some regional markets like Bengali, there’s already an established ecosystem and all one had to do was adapt the content for OTT,” said Oho Gujarati’s Jain. “Specifically, talking about Gujarati content, there is no legacy industry. There’s only one general entertainment channel and I don’t know how much it is working. The audiences predominantly watch movies in the theatre and local language films have only just started.”

He added, “The challenge for a regional OTT player like us is that we have to create an ecosystem for Gujarati content and then adapt that and bring that to OTT. In the ten months of existence of Oho Gujarati, we’ve featured nine debutant directors, six debutant writers and 34 debutant actors.”

Most of the regional OTT players are coming from a production background, however, technology is the backbone of such platforms. While it is important to create good content, experience in terms of payment options, auto renewals, marketing automation and data tracking are also critical aspects of the user experience. Relying on aggregators or partners allows these platforms to focus on what they do best – churn out amazing content, without having to reinvent the wheel from scratch.

“We expect to see more bundled products like Amazon Channels, where platforms with large reach provide that to smaller/ boutique/niche OTT players on a revenue share basis,” said the E&Y report.

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