Buoyed by multiple reports that have predicted 8-10x growth in India’s over-the-top (OTT) market by the year 2030, players in the segment are increasingly taking the route of collaboration and consolidation to strengthen their foothold. A fine example of this is Amazon Prime Video launching ‘Prime Video Channels’ by bringing in eight different players together on one platform.
The proposed merger between Zee and Sony will also lead to the consolidation of their OTT platforms, Zee5 and SonyLIV, if the aforementioned merger goes by smoothly.
Moreover, in 2019, Zee5 and ALTBalaji had also partnered to create content which eventually would be available for viewers on both platforms simultaneously. The partnership between SonyLIV-Hoichi and the 2018 deal which saw South Asian streaming service HOOQ partnering with Hotstar, to make Hollywood content available on the latter, are also shining examples of this model’s effectiveness.
India’s video OTT market is expected to touch $12.5 billion by 2030 from about $1.5 billion in 2021, according to a report by RBSA Advisors.
Industry experts feel that this route is a positive step towards achieving the growth targets inorganically.
“Users are consuming content digitally now more than ever. On Prime Video, we have users tuning in from 99% of India’s pin codes. With over 40 OTT platforms in the industry, users also have more choice than they did a few years ago,” says Chaitanya Divan, Head Prime Video Channels.
“The increasing number of OTT platforms has also created subscription fatigue for viewers. Understanding this issue, Amazon came up with ‘Channels’ which brings content from 8 OTT players in one place,” he added.
Upon being asked how this move by Amazon Prime Videos will help the smaller partner platforms, Divan explained that the video streaming platforms collaborating with Amazon benefit from instant access to a ready pool of discerning and incredibly engaged consumers across the length and breadth of the country. “They get access to a world-class viewing experience in addition to our tech and distribution infrastructure,” he added.
A senior executive from one of the partner platforms of Amazon Prime Channels, under conditions of anonymity said, “We are growing at a rate of 63-65 per cent year-on-year in the South-Indian market and now this partnership with Amazon will help us expand to national markets. This deal will also allow viewers from across the country to access our regional content, which they might not subscribe to otherwise.”
“Right now it is difficult to say whether we are moving towards a polarized OTT market on a national level or not. But yes, this deal will surely allow Amazon to dominate the regional OTT market,” the executive said. “However, we do not see the deal as competition but as a healthy collaboration which will help us grow in the national market,” he added.
A media and entertainment industry observer told BestMediaInfo.com that such moves are aimed at gaining dominance, considering the major competition is only among 2-3 leading OTT players. “However, we cannot ignore the power of smaller OTT players in their regional markets. This partnership with OTT platforms like Manorama Max, Shorts TV etc, will allow Amazon to expand its footprints in the regional market,” said the observer.
“It is often challenging to bring behavioural change in regional audiences. Partnering with the regional players is always the easier and better way. Amazon realized the power of regional players on time. This move will surely help Amazon to stay ahead of its competitors in the national market,” the observer added.
“As far as the proposed Sony-Zee merger is concerned, one can safely say that they have come together to complement each other. Both Zee and Sony are top names in Indian television and digital space. Sony's content spreads across genres, but its strength is in the sports segment. Zee's forte is film entertainment and in the television network stakes it has grown stronger in the South Indian market,” he explained.
Media and communications expert, Anita Nayyar sees this as the beginning of polarisation in the OTT space.
“We can expect more consolidation in the days to come and over the course of time independent players will wear out unless they opt for consolidation,” she emphasized.
Pointing out to the Amazon partnership, with eight different OTT players to bring content in one place, Nayyar said, “We can see this step from Amazon as another step towards a polarized OTT space.”
While the overall OTT industry is on a growth path, we can expect more such partnerships in the near future and it will only help the OTT platforms to attract more subscribers, she added.
Talking about the proposed Sony-Zee merger, Mohit Joshi, CEO, Havas Media Group India, said the merger will certainly benefit both players and lead to combined synergies, given Sony’s strong footing in sports, kids and non-fiction segments, and the latter’s massive presence across regionals and GECs.
“Undoubtedly, there is huge competition within the OTT space due to established international players; however, it’s all about who provides the most meaningful content – quality, form, topicality, localisation wise when it comes to wooing the Indian audience on digital platforms. That is where the Sony-Zee entity could benefit and emerge into a new media powerhouse,” he added. Upon being asked what these indicate for the future, he said such partnerships give a better opportunity to scale up business ambitions by creating value for all stakeholders.