How OTT has changed the face of India’s media and entertainment industry

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, one noteworthy trend was the accelerated consumption of content through over-the-top (OTT) platforms. And with the closure of theatres, the pandemic compelled the media and entertainment industry to innovate like never before.

To dive deep into this topic, SMBStory and cloud partner Amazon Internet Services Private Limited (AISPL) hosted a WhatsApp chat session as part of ‘SMB week – Converse, Combat, Conquer’.

In a chat session held on March 19, industry players came together to discuss how the media and entertainment has evolved in the last one year and what more can be done to survive in the foreseeable future.

Boosting the OTT space

In the last one year, travel and other restrictions led people to seek entertainment from online platforms like never before.

One of the biggest disruptions that happened last year was the accelerated shift of consuming content from the big screens to the small screens after the closure of theatres. This, coupled with the continued proliferation of internet users with the availability of cheap data and smartphones, led to a rise in subscriptions.

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Rupinder Kaur, Co-founder and CEO of Cinemapreneur, quoted some numbers to highlight the same, “The pandemic accelerated the subscription trend (of OTT platforms) as a result of increased in-home spending. Subscriptions for top OTTs grew by 55-60 percent as has many of them also made inroads into tier two, three and even four cities.” She further added that this trend is here to stay, more so because almost all content is available on these platforms.

While Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, among others were some of the reigning players in the OTT market, COVID-19 presented many new players an opportunity to make an entry in this space. Rupinder’s startup is one such example.

Sharmin Ali, Founder and CEO of Instoried, added that the rise in digital entertainment platforms has created massive opportunities for content creators, leading to employment generation. He said, “COVID-19 has made it absolutely imperative to be online and create massive amounts of digital content to engage with audiences. As a result. more and more content marketers have been creating content to target consumers.”

Giving a deeper insight into the influencer community, Prince Khanna, Founder and CEO of Eleve Media, said, “Specifically talking about this community, 2020’s content growth became an all-time high. Categories like gaming, travel, education and entertainment were among the most consumed categories on YouTube India. Additionally, the top 20 channels on youtube in 16 categories generated more than 300 billion views last year.”

Staying ahead of competition

While it has been established that the OTT space is going to become increasingly crowded, the next question for small businesses to ponder over is: how to stay ahead of competition? Sharmin answered by citing the example of his own content startup, “At Instoried, we measure empathy in content and give smart recommendations to increase empathy among users. This has been the biggest addition to our product. It’s a tough time for everyone, and it is extremely important to communicate with empathy. We have all partnered with lots of companies globally andalso built proprietary products.”

In addition, Gaurav Agarwal, Co-founder of Gamezop believed that players that didn’t have a scalable content pipeline saw loss of share to competition.

Prince pointed out that leveraging technology is important, especially cloud computing to ensure operational efficiencies.

Further highlighting its importance, BK Chaurasiya, Head of Solutions Architects at AISPL, “Broadcasters need to constantly adapt and change according to consumer behavior, workflows need to be optimised, and cloud technologies is the way to go!”

“Cloud computing is the silent, yet most effective catalyst that kept us going (last year). We started building more Ad-Tech solutions that are enabling brands to access more analytics remotely,” added Sravanth, Co-founder of Adonmo.

Sharmin concluded the conversation around technology by stating that while content remains the king, technology will help players operating in this space understand and predict consumer behaviour.

Future of media and entertainment industry

All panellists agreed that the time is ripe for OTTs even in 2021 when people are still hesitant to go to theatres. “The film industry went through an entire industry shift when OTT platforms bypassed the theatrical release of a film and started releasing mainstream Bollywood films on their platforms. This trend is going to continue as people are still wary of going to the theatres,” said Rupinder.

While the future prospects are in favour for OTTs, not all hope is lost for multiplexes. “Watching a movie in a multiplex is an immersive experience. Multiplexes have to communicate this message very assertively while taking care of the safety norms,” said Sravanth.

Finally, any conversation around technology is incomplete without the mention of data protection. “Cyberattacks and data privacy issues can severely damage any organisation even in case a senior executive loses a laptop. For SMBs, it can have a huge impact on the working methods of the companies,” said Prince.

His suggestion? “By introducing technology-based tools in the system, small and medium businesses can avoid discrepancies and help in protecting users’ data.”

Key Takeaways- How SMBs in the content space grow in the post-pandemic world


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