A Video Insights report by Futuresource uncovers the rapid change across the Indian video landscape. Data shows that affordable smartphones, cheaper mobile data and faster internet access has driven SVoD growth. By the end of the year (2020) India will have the third most SVoD subscribers of any country worldwide, after China and the US, and is predicted to reach 95 million in 2023.
While over 40 competing SVoD players are active in the Indian market, the most successful to date has been Alt Balaji, SonyLiv and Hotstar, all of which have focused on rights to live stream sports, as well as entertainment content in multiple regional languages.
“It’s the live Indian Premier League Cricket rights which has ensured the success of Hotstar against the international competition, providing a reason to initially subscribe and its currently excelling in terms of subscriber growth, reaching 8.6 million subscribers in 2019,” commented Market Analyst Tristan Veale. “Furthermore, Hotstar has a compelling entertainment library which keeps people loyal to the service rather than churning out. As a subsidiary of Disney, it hosts the Disney and Fox theatrical catalogues, as well as exclusive streaming deals with HBO and Showtime, amongst others.”
Nevertheless, key global players Amazon and Netflix continue to heavily invest in local content. Amazon have invested $5 billion to date in India, helping it to reach 16 million total Prime members in 2019. This was predominantly achieved through offering a low annual cost for the platform which covers free ecommerce shipping too. In comparison, Netflix is more expensive but unveiled a new plan which is a cheaper, mobile-only option and looks to increase Netflix’s footprint.
“An interesting point to mention is that pay-TV in India still dominates 80 per cent of the overall video entertainment market spend and is expected to continue to grow to reach 69 per cent of household penetration by 2023,” addedVeale. “However, pay-TV subscriptions are very cheap and as such the difference in price between SVoD and Pay-TV is one of the lowest worldwide. Therefore, it’s not the lower cost of subscription which is driving SVoD adoption, it’s a mixture of the content carried and the convenience of being able to watch when and where desired which is resonating.”
Telecos are looking to form a tighter integration with SVoD by offering bundle deals. This intuitive approach provides a way for the likes of T-Mobile to position themselves as an aggregator for online video services and TV channels available. The success of these bundles is evident from the research, which shows how SVoD subscribers are coming directly from telco bundles. By keeping track of the latest players to potentially partner with, telcos can maintain customer loyalty and build favourable grounds for growth.
Futuresource forecasts that while the numerous local SVoD players will continue to push for subscriber growth, the Indian market will soon become oversaturated and struggle to support them all in the long term. Ultimately, consumers will be looking to choose the best select services on offer. The winner in the SVoD race amongst local and international players will come down to exclusivity, affordability and the regular supply of quality content.