Can TVOD be the ‘next big thing’ for the OTT sector in India?

Experts opine that while subscription-based platforms require a commitment of time and money (typically annually) from the user, pay-per-view offers the liberty to select a title and pay for exactly what the user wants to watch, without subscribing to multiple platforms to fulfil their content requirements

Saptak Bardhan
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New Delhi: Over-the-top (OTT) platforms, despite being successful in India, have created alternative business models for revenue. One such avenue is transaction-based video-on-demand (TVOD).

The TVOD sector is expected to grow from Rs 500 crore in 2023 to Rs 2000 crore by 2028, as per a report by EY-FICCI. Additionally, the TVOD sector is expected to generate over Rs 1000 crore by 2026.  

Bhavik Mehta, CEO, Thinkin’ Birds Communications, said, “TVOD (Transactional Video on Demand) has experienced significant growth in India, defying the country's reputation as a cost-conscious market through several key drivers. India's rapid urbanisation has expanded the middle class, characterised by increased disposable incomes and a penchant for premium entertainment options. This demographic shift favours TVOD platforms, which provide on-demand access to movies, exclusive series, and live events, fulfilling the demand for high-quality content.”

In an exclusive interaction with, experts expressed that the Indian audience warmed up to the model during the pandemic when direct-to-digital releases happened for movies. They further added that the model is rising because it serves two universal consumer needs: first, the ability to sharply control their spending on content they want to watch; and second, instant gratification without commitments to future releases. 

Moreover, experts added that TVOD has become one of the most exciting spaces for all content makers and studios, as the culture of ‘pay for what you want to watch’ is gaining traction rather than having multiple subscriptions. 

Saurabh Srivastava, COO-digital business, Shemaroo, stated, “Many subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD) subscriptions are driven by a single marquee title, often splitting seasons into two releases to encourage quarterly pack renewal—this is closer to TVOD than SVOD. We anticipate further expansion of this model as well, as it offers consumers more control. However, solid SVOD propositions will eventually stand to gain the most, and TVOD will serve as an intermediary step.”

The Indian OTT audience consists of 48.11 crore people with approximately 34% penetration, an Ormax report suggested. It added that there are 10.18 crore active paid (B2C) OTT subscriptions in India, across 3.64 crore SVOD audiences, an average of 2.8 subscriptions per paying audience member.

A major differentiator between TVOD and SVOD is recurring payments made for a subscription that spans a certain amount of time, usually a month or a year. Experts opine that while subscription-based platforms require a commitment of time and money (typically annually) from the user, pay-per-view offers the liberty to select a title and pay for exactly what the user wants to watch without subscribing to multiple platforms to fulfil their content requirements.

Mehta highlighted that the widespread adoption of smartphones and improved internet connectivity has made accessing TVOD services easier, particularly in urban areas where digital consumption patterns are evolving rapidly. 

Venugopal Iyengar, COO-Digital, Planetcast, stated, “Post-pandemic, the Indian audience has embraced TVOD for its flexibility and exclusive content. Our experience managing IPL for various rights holders, where OTT rights are as valuable as linear broadcast rights, highlights effective monetization on both broadcast and TVOD. Media owners are recognising this trend. The widespread use of UPI payments has made purchasing seamless, and realistic pricing is encouraging more people to embrace TVOD.”

Furthermore, TVOD's appeal lies in its offering of exclusive and premium content that isn't available through traditional television or free-to-air services, attracting viewers who value unique and high-quality content and contributing to the overall growth of TVOD in India despite initial cost considerations. 

The TVOD model is viewed as an initiative to create stickiness with audiences not used to paying for content. Various experts have stated that the TVOD model in India has been successful in getting consumers to pay for content that they like while having control over their wallets. 

Ashish Saksena, COO-cinemas, BookMyShow, highlighted, “The gap between a theatrical release and a movie’s availability on an SVOD platform, especially for Hollywood films, is sometimes as long as 8–12 weeks. It is this gap that the TVOD model has plugged, especially since Indian audiences prefer watching films as soon as they are available.”

“Additionally, Indians’ craze for movies and the size of the movie-watching audience pan-India make this model a compelling one, given its ability to grant visibility to blockbusters from non-English-speaking countries and several niche films beyond the massive, big-budget, and large-scale films that otherwise struggle to fight for screen space and a full theatrical release across the country,” he added.

According to BookMyShow stream data, while the awareness of the TVOD model is strong in tier-I and tier-II cities where premium content consumption is high, there has been an increasing interest from consumers in cities such as Pune, Kochi, Vizag, Ahmedabad, Trivandrum, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar, and Coimbatore, among other places.

Industry sources further opined that the increasing popularity of the model is attributed to the content on offer as well as the acceptance of the model, which has led consumers to opt for the pay-per-view model to watch the content they choose to watch for half the price of purchasing a subscription to an SVOD OTT platform.

TVOD witnessed a rise in audiences and consumers on the back of theatres shutting down due to restrictions placed by the government during the pandemic. However, despite the resumption of services in theatres and India having had one of its most successful years in the recent past, experts believe that the theatre business has fundamentally changed.

Moreover, they added that consumers need better reasons than before to visit theatres. Given the increase in content and growth rates during the lockdown period, which is not sustainable, content can be monetized across various pipelines and models over time. 

“The demand for TVOD remains robust as it offers a personalised and convenient entertainment experience that fits into the modern viewer's lifestyle. We believe that TVOD is not just an alternative but an addition to the entertainment ecosystem, continually evolving to meet the needs of our audience. With consumers having loved and allowed for the co-existence of both theatrical and on-demand content models, it is a matter of time before TVOD finds itself sitting among the more compelling forms of cinema consumption,” Saksena added.

All three models will co-exist advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD), transaction-based video-on-demand (TVOD), and subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD) in India. While bundling is a convenient product for consumers, eventually, content is at the core. No OTT player can rely only on bundling. Hence, both TVOD and DTC SVOD are expected to grow, industry experts concluded. 

However, a few experts believe that TVOD is for the affluent, and while the sector is expected to grow, it will only grow in tandem with the SVOD model. 

Vinita Shah, a senior media analyst, said, “While there is potential for entertainment-based TVOD to expand in India, it is primarily the affluent demographic that is currently adopting it. Despite its anticipated growth, the sector will continue to evolve in conjunction with SVOD.”