Optimism abounds in Indian online video industry
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The Indian online video industry has been growing steadily over the last few years, and speakers at the 2022 Future of Video India summit, held virtually April 29, expressed a heightened sense of optimism that the industry is still at an early stage of the business cycle.
Nxtdigital Ltd. Managing Director and CEO Vynsley Fernandes said 80% of online video consumption comes from metro cities in India, while 70% of the Indian population resides in rural areas. According to Rajat Nigam, group chief technology officer of Network18 Media & Investments Ltd., roughly 100 million households in the country do not have a television at home, representing a huge untapped potential for the online video industry.
It is without a doubt that ad-based video-on-demand, or AVOD, services will expand at a faster pace than subscription video-on-demand, or SVOD, services in such a price-sensitive market. Although SVOD has generally been the preferred model due to the predictability of revenues generated, the challenges in migrating consumers in India to SVOD could be overwhelming. Industry executives agreed that both monetization models will remain complementary and the hybrid freemium model is more relevant than a pure SVOD model in the Indian market.
Users of AVOD and SVOD services tend to show different viewing appetites and behaviors. Content creators agreed that it is important to target different cohorts in their content strategy because “one cannot fit all audience in one big box,” said Nimisha Pandey, chief content officer of Hindi Originals at ZEE5 of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. Having succeeded in leading the Indian SVOD market with the largest subscriber share, The Walt Disney Co.-owned Disney+ Hotstar is well aware of the Indian consumers’ willingness to pay for cricket content. The platform’s India Head, Sunil Rayan, said it is one of their priorities to produce entertainment content as compelling as sports. To satisfy the appetite of the cricket fans that are also the loyal subscribers of the service, Disney+ Hotstar continues to produce a series of biopic films on legendary Indian cricketers.
The popularity of short-form video in India was also highlighted at the conference. Disney+ Hotstar aimed to expand its production of content that is 10 minutes or less per episode. Facebook India Online Services Private Ltd.‘s Director of Content and Community Partnerships, Paras Sharma, said the usage of short-form video on its platform in the market surged by more than 3.5 times in the last couple of years. Unlike most over-the-top platforms where Hindi content is mainstream, more than 70% of content streamed on Facebook Watch is non-Hindi, and the percentage continues to rise. A similar trend on Facebook India is that more user-generated content in India is produced by creators outside of the metro cities.
Speaking from the perspective of a social media platform, Facebook India positions itself as a marketing channel to show short clips that are highlights of long-form videos meant to drive marketing and fan-building incentives for their partners. Sharma added that more than one-third of Facebook India partners start to get monetized on their platform. Director of Entertainment, Sports and Music Partnerships of Facebook India (Meta), Saket Jha Saurabh, commented that the platform adopts the same strategy when it comes to sports content without going into details regarding the ending of the LaLiga deal and insisted the company is still interested in acquiring content. The social media platform acquired exclusive streaming and broadcasting rights to three seasons of the LaLiga matches for India in 2018 but refused to renew the deal upon its termination in 2021.

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