Why this article? Not just to share what we – Monica Shergill, Vice President, Content, Netflix India, Gaurav Banerjee, Head Content – Disney Hotstar & HSM TV Network, Sameer Nair, CEO, Applause Entertainment Pvt Ltd, Siju Prabhakaran, Chief cluster officer, ZEE5, Manish Menghani, Director, Content Licensing, Amazon Prime Video, India, spoke about the past, present and future of the OTT industry in the recent CII Dakshin Media Entertainment Summit 2022 meeting held in Chennai – but to record the contemporary challenges of the market in terms of content and tactics. The OTT market is now increasing in size. Well, where are we in this entire scenario?
The number of subscribers in India is currently 8 crores, and its likely to grow to 22 to 25 crores by the year 2025. We all know we just had 10 entertainment platforms, a few years ago, and now at this moment – it has grown to around 4X, that is forty entertainment platforms operating in India. Now, the market size of the OTT industry, currently is around 15,000 crores. Another interesting information is that the investment in OTT originals is likely to grow from 5,000 crores to 30,000 crores by 2025. And it’s here we have to nail things right. Putting across this interesting piece of information may fetch more visibility: The number of films released directly in OTT in 2021 was nearly 100 films.
And so we have to arrive at this quote – “Regional is the new national”. Nearly 69% of the films that OTT showcased were regional films. In other words, around 47% of the originals that were showcased were regional. By 2025, 54% of the content that OTT would be showcasing would be regional. Regional is the new national. And remember one thing, three out of every 10 OTT subscribers in India watch non English and non- Hindi content.
What a scenario that we are in today with Bahubali, Pushpa, all prophesising the whole of India that it’s the south that matters and rules the tinsel industry. We, the South Indians are the new headquarters of the entertainment landscape in our country. The best example of a case study that I would say is ‘Minnal Murali’. It is the most watched film on Netflix in the non-English category, and ranked number 4 in the top ten movie list. Today, such southern unique content transcends all languages and in particular – all geographical barriers. Not just that, some of the films showcased by Amazon, like Sarpetta, travelled to 135 countries.
So, I would love to begin this conversation with a very optimistic note that India would be the biggest OTT market in the world, after the USA in the future.
Now I would love to share the exact conversation I had with all of them in the exact words –
Anup: Sameer, would you want to add more to the OTT growth story?
Sameer: I was thinking about this last night. I saw the CII report released yesterday, which had some data points. One of those that struck me was that the size of the south industry was pegged at 17,000 crores, and that of tv was pegged at 24,000 crores. I think these are relatively accurate estimates. Because TV is an old business and you know, where in other parts of the business, such numbers are a bit unclear, but TV has grown to become quite accurate. When television impinged itself as an industry in the early 90s, and if you think about it in 2022, the south industry is worth 24000 crores and the national industry is worth 75000 crores. So, if that’s what TV can achieve in thirty years, which is essentially a fixed screen, in a living room, which has now penetrated 200 million homes, we ought to imagine what OTT and streaming would do in the next thirty years. I think that is the real potential. Because, otherwise every number becomes a bit of a dispute, because – in a short term, it is tough and difficult, but in a long term, i.e., over the next thirty years, it’s about a device in your palm, (600 million now to 6 billion then) that will rule the world then.
The streaming world has made the world, just a global village. It has created a pan Indian market. And hence it’s a great time to be a content creator. I have been having quite a good time doing it. So, I think its really exciting. There would always be views on the numbers, but ultimately on a long term, this is going to be great growth story.
Anup: Absolutely Sameer. You said it right. The number of television households is approximately 210 million, and India has 300 million households. And, currently, OTT is only 8 crores. So, we can imagine how vast is the head-room or the head-space available for growth. We can’t dent that there is a tremendous potential. We have just begun our journey. It takes me back to our growing up years when television started with just ten million or fifteen million homes. Today, just look at where television is. Thankyou very much Sameer for that interesting comment.
Now, let me start with specific brand questions. I will start with probably Manish.
Manish, now, looking at what Amazon stands for – you have all kinds of content – you have feel-good stories, you have got crime stories – and finally, what is the universe that you are targeting at or trying to delineate? Who is your TG? And, what would you like your brand identity to be?
Manish: First of all, thankyou for having us over. It’s really great to be here and share our views. I think we are going to do our best to talk about where this is heading, but this is anybody’s guess. You can see how its evolving everyday and we all continue to learn. Anup, to answer your question, I think it starts for us with the consumer. We are very consumer-focussed, we understand that India is very heterogenous. And, that’s where it all begins. Its not one consumer, there are many consumers. We are not programming like one channel; we are programming literally like a network. If you look at the demography across age, gender, and even language preferences, we are present and serving in ten languages.
From the time we launched in India, in 2016, we are catering content across consumer preferences, in genres and the several entertainment preferences that our consumers have, like scripted and unscripted content. So, I think it’s a complicated matrix of what consumers prefer, and how that’s served across language, demography and so on. So, that’s really where it starts off.
We also recognise that it’s not just the consumers who are diverse, but creators are diverse too, which means we are in a very unique position to work with very varied kind of creators, with different story telling and narrative styles – Whether it’s big formats or genres, or stories that were imagined for a certain set of audience, but grew out to be larger than what they were originally imagined to be, we are wanting to tell all these kinds of stories. Here again, these stories have centred in the heart of what we do and that’s the second part. And, the third part is we’re also recognising that in the last couple of years, Consumers have become a lot more open to having and wanting diverse content. Previously, most people will primarily consume content in their first language or the second language, but we are seeing consumers being a lot more open today linguistically. More than 50% of consumption for our regional language films will come from outside of the home state. We are seeing consumers are open to stories coming from outside of India, and they are open to stories coming from within India. We are now not just importers of stories, just as you would hear us talk about international cinema, internationally people are also talking about cinema emerging from India. So, I think we have got into a point in India where we are making a very big and bold statement, and like Sameer said, there’s never been a better time for all of us.
– Questions and discussions follow in Part 2 of the article –
Article is authored by Anup Chandrasekharan.