The OTT War

Video streaming is no doubt a huge business. In 2020, it has generated a revenue of approximately $26 billion, with an annual growth rate of 4.1%.

Netflix is a veteran in the industry, having been founded back in 1997. Over the years, as streaming became more popular, Netflix established itself as the industry leader and today has 167 million subscribers worldwide. Following the success of Netflix, big entertainment firms and film production companies began their own streaming services. These being YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, with the most recent entry into the market, apple TV+, HBO MAX, Disney+ and NBC’s Peacock.

With all companies facing high competition, every streaming service had to do something big to attract customers, showing how their OTT platform is superior to the others. Netflix spends billions of dollars every year to create Netflix original movies and web series, allowing young aspiring filmmakers as well as legendary veterans in the film industry to use the platform without complications of getting their films financed or released in theaters. Disney acquired large money-making studios like Marvel Studios (company behind the blockbuster Marvel superhero films) and Lucasfilm (company behind the legendary Star Wars franchise). Amazon prime membership has multiple advantages, with free prime delivery, prime music (their own music streaming service), and best of all primevideo which hosts thousands of great movies and shows across all major languages. Amazon spends a lot of its budget to create regional language content. Recently Amazon acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the century old legendary production studio for $8.5 billion.

Sports also plays a huge role in getting customers to subscribe to a streaming service. Peacock announced that it will be streaming Tokyo Olympics live on its service. Disney+ partnered with Hotstar, India’s biggest streaming service, which streams major sporting events and leagues on its platform.

Every streaming service comes with subscription packages of different benefits and price range. Disney+ being new to the market, had a few tricks up their sleeve to attract customers from other streaming services to switch to their own. The basic subscription of Disney+ and Netflix are the same price, yet Disney+ includes 4K viewing, while Netflix customers have to pay extra to enjoy 4K. Even HD streaming on Netflix comes with an extra fee. Netflix only allows one viewer at a time for its basic subscription, while Disney+ offers up to four viewers on one subscription. These may seem like small details, but when going head-to-head with an already established brand, it helps to offer extra benefits and features.

The major reasons for the boom in popularity of OTT in India was the availability of low-cost mobile data and affordable smartphones. India has the cheapest mobile data in the world with 1GB costing just INR 18.5 as compared to the global average of about INR 600. It enabled the youth in India to access OTT video streaming services at affordable prices.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and national lockdown in 2020, India witnessed a significant growth in the usage of OTT. Until then, the popularity of OTT platforms were limited to urban area and above middle class. Film theatres were also closed since national lockdown, people were restricted to their homes and didn’t have much options for entertainment. Big budget films starring huge stars are being directly released in OTT platforms and have been very successful for both filmmakers as well as streaming services.

This is the story of the rise of streaming services in India and around the world and what we are witnessing is just the very beginning of a new era of entertainment.

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