How 2020 was breakthrough year for OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime in India?

There are currently over 40 OTT providers in India, with several of them serving content in vernacular languages too.

The year 2020 saw the world change and come to a standstill all at the same time. In March when COVID-19 forced lockdown, the weary population who were stuck at homes hustled for a ray of sunshine. Parallelly, we saw the internet go through a metamorphosis, with more content being created across mediums. It was then our savior emerged and provided sanity to those in unprecedented lockdown — the OTT platforms.

With easy internet access and the movie theatres shutting down owing to the lockdown, all the movie buffs shifted to over the top media services, popularly called the OTT, which overwhelmingly boosted its value and usage. During this year, the content that was generated too catered to all sections of the audience that are locked up at homes.

The Indian OTT market is dominated by Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. However, there are several production house-backed local OTT players, such as SonyLIV, Voot, Zee5, ErosNow, and ALTBalaji, which are competing with these global players and trying to make a mark in the market. There are currently over 40 OTT providers in India, with several of them serving content in vernacular languages too.

Hyderabad-based Aha too made its mark with fresh content, from its movies to TV shows and talk shows ruling the Telugu audience.

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Tremendous growth in OTT subscriptions

The OTT sector in India witnessed a 30 per cent rise in the number of paid subscribers, from 22.2 million to 29.0 million between March and July 2020, a report by India Brand Equity Foundation said. Overall, the top five metro cities accounted for 46 per cent of the total OTT video platform users, while Tier I cities accounted for another 35 per cent of users in July 2020.

For example, the daily active users on Amazon Prime Video in India increased by 83 per cent since the country went under lockdown.

US-based Netflix, the gamechanger in the OTT industry, has its market value standing at an intimidating $217.08 billion. Its disoriented, yet content-hungry audience have only begun joining the party, it seems.

According to the report, the Indian OTT market is set to reach Rs 237.86 billion (US$3.22 billion) by FY25, from Rs 42.50 billion (US$576.73 million) in FY19.

Another report by KPMG noted that revenues of OTT, the only segment in media that registered growth, climbed 26 percent and subscriptions rose 47 percent, it said.

Shift from theatres to OTT

In addition, as the lockdown impeded the theatrical experience, filmmakers are taking new releases to OTT platforms. With OTT being the only escapade, many rushed to get a subscription to premium content and movies.

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One of the first films this year that opted for an OTT release is Irrfan’s Angrezi Medium. The Hindi language comedy-drama had released in the theatres just a week before the nation-wide lockdown was announced and was taken down. With the sad demise of the actor in April, the makers of the movie released it on Disney+Hotstar.

Similarly, Sushant Singh Rajput’s Dil Bechara was also meant to be a theatrical release. But following Rajput’s death, the audience who wished to watch him on big screens were disappointed with the OTT release. The film fared well, nevertheless, as it was offered to audiences for free in the late actor’s memory.

Among other Hindi films that hoped for a run at the theatre, but chose OTT platforms eventually were Gunjan Saxena, Gulabo Sitabo, Sadak 2, Ludo, Khaali Peeli, etc.

Down south, Suriya Sivakumar’s most awaited Soorarai Pottru was released on Amazon Prime recently. Keeping aside the disappointment for not getting a theatrical release, the film won both critical and commercial acclaim in Telugu. Movies like Middle Class Melodies, Miss India, etc. proved their mettle too.

The original content on these platforms–including TV shows and movies–is a different ball game altogether.

With streaming giants introducing cheaper entry-level subscription plans for its users, launching a Hindi interface to further the platform’s appeal in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities for regional content, it is only fair to assume that 2020 is a stepping stone ahead for further domination of OTT platforms.

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