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In-depth: As market forces drive bundling of OTTs, who will be the end beneficiary?

The OTT market is overcrowded with more than 40 players and the audience is overwhelmed with choices. In such a scenario, we analyse how OTT aggregators such as JioTV+ and Tata Sky Binge+ could play a role in increasing the OTT penetration

As the consumption of OTT content is on the rise, the ease of consuming is also becoming important for consumers. With most OTT apps on our smartphones and smart TVs requiring different logins and subscriptions every time, it becomes a task for consumers.

That’s where distribution platforms are playing a huge role by offering all major OTT platforms to the audience under one umbrella with ease of navigating content. This content may further be discounted in most cases, making OTT consumption easier and affordable.

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While there were fire sticks to bring all OTT apps on smart TV, they were not offering single a login or bundling of various OTT apps and linear television. Platforms such as JioTV+ and Tata Sky Binge+ have come up with solutions to these twin challenges.

Reliance launched JioTV+ to address this issue. “We learnt that one of the challenges that users faced was to discover their favourite content from the various applications that we had provided. This has given birth to JioTV+, where we have aggregated all the content from 12 leading global OTT players,” said Akash Ambani, Director, Jio at the 43rd Reliance AGM.

Tata Sky, which launched Tata Sky Binge last year, also added newer OTT platforms to its library. 

According to experts, such platforms not only benefit the consumer but offer a viable solution for the OTT platform as well as the aggregator.

Partho Dasgupta

According to Partho Dasgupta, Management Consultant and ex-CEO, BARC India, bundling is like any other consumer product. "At some point, there will be consolidation and shake outs. Only time will tell who will survive, but we've got around 40 OTTs and the competition is stiff. Bundling will benefit some but some might also suffer due to the discounting. It's a matter of time to find out to figure out how it finally pans out,” he said.

He said although not all OTT players will feel the need to offer discounts, it depends on the numbers the aggregator gets in as the penetration of wired broadband is still not high.

"From what we hear, JioTV+ has 20 million numbers. From a consumer point of view it's a great deal but from the OTT point of view, it's kind of a trade-off they do for discounting versus the numbers,” he said.

According to Manpreet Bumrah, Vice-President, Business Development and Commercial, Zee5 India, bundling benefits both the bundler as well as the OTT platform. “The bundler gets a number of OTTs together to show to its consumers and for OTTs it adds up to the additional views; it's a win-win proposition,” he said.

He said aggregators are going to mediums where OTT is consumed and people are now exploring this space to further add to their revenues. “Take the example of Tata Sky, you see they have been into this for so many years now, and have been successful in the DTH business. Having said that, it is an evolution that is being explored by traditional content providers and distributors. They are finding this as a potential medium that can further add to the customer base and revenue. For us, it is the relationship and benefit. We get the extra reach and the additional consumers, so it's a win-win situation,” he said.

Divya Dixit

Divya Dixit, SVP, Marketing, Analytics, and Direct Revenue, ALTBalaji, aggregators can play a crucial role in serving content in an organised manner to the consumers.

“Video streaming platforms have transformed the content consumption cycle of the Indian audience by presenting them with a plethora of options. Ease of access, unique narratives, and affordability are a few of the key drivers of the OTT industry. With the influx of new emerging players, content accessibility holds a chance to get dissolved and lost. India in 2020 is witnessing a huge shift in entertainment consumption, especially with the emergence of more OTT players that are catering to a different set of audiences, with varied tastes and preferences. India currently has more than 40 video streaming platforms, and amid this clutter, the biggest challenge is to get discovered. In such a scenario, aggregators can play a crucial role and serve content to the audience in a much-organised manner, while giving equal opportunities to each platform. Bundling can also help ease some pressure off the consumer’s pocket while making the content more accessible.”

A Tata Sky spokesperson said, “In this golden age of content, an aggregation and distribution platform like Tata Sky will only help increase the reach of OTT apps, just like TV channels. Tata Sky Binge as an OTT aggregator service provides a unified interface to help customers discover content seamlessly from nine premium OTT apps. A single subscription bundle at Rs 299 per month allows access to eight OTT apps — Disney+Hotstar Premium, Zee5, Voot Select, Voot Kids, Sun Nxt, Eros Now, Hungama Play, ShemarooMe. Amazon Prime can be accessed at an additional Rs 129 per month. Customers have the option of accessing Tata Sky Binge using the Tata Sky Binge+ Smart Set Top Box powered by Android TV, or via the Amazon Fire TV stick- Tata Sky Edition. We see the ecosystem of apps, width of content, and device options only grow with the Tata Sky Binge platform.

Tata Sky Binge recently added Voot Kids and Voot Select to their platform.

Asked if we could see additional players like Netflix on their platform, the spokesperson said, “We will keep expanding the suite of partner apps and will keep looking at such opportunities in the future.”

Aggregators also helping in consuming unused data

According to Bumrah, as many aggregators are also in the data business, it is easier for them as they are already providing consumers with data.

“There is a further increment in the bundling industry and many other players are actually coming up with their propositions. You see, it is a kind of opportunity and people want to leverage on that. When you talk of Airtel and Jio, they have understood that there are some benefits which the consumer is looking for, they are already into the data business, and extending the OTT benefit to the consumer largely works for them because they also offer the consumer to consume the data bandwidth, which earlier used to stay unutilised. Like one-two years ago, in your plan you were holding probably 200 GB of data that was not getting used. Now there is data that is being offered to the consumers by telecoms by the virtue of the plan the consumer has brought, so it works very well. It's a 360-degree growth and an evolution where all parties are actually gaining,” he said.

He said they are proud of the partnerships they made. “We will go live with many others soon. It's a very gripping feeling to meet the demands and expectations of the consumers,” he added.

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