| 31 May 2023
Ficci Frames 2016 Special: Updated policy, business plans play key role in making OTT a vibrant platform

MUMBAI: In a market that could expect an estimated growth of 520 million smartphone users by 2020, the subject of 'small screen' consumption for most of the content created cannot be ignored. The latest observations have concluded that most of the country's youth with smartphones prefer on-the-go consumption of content, and the practice receives a major boost with major networks providing faster and efficient (3G and 4G) networks.

Moderated by Consulting Editor of Bloomberg TV India, Vikram Oza, the session on Day Three of Ficci Frames 2016 largely focused on how execution of some ideas and content never received its deserving outcome due to lack of a vibrant platform in the OTT sector. The panel included the 'big boys' of the OTT space in the market - Vice President & Head, Digital Business at Sony Pictures Network India, COO of Viacom18 Digital Ventures Gaurav Gandhi, Co-Founder & Content head of HOOQ Krishan Rajagopalan, COO of Arre Ajay Chako and SVP, Worldwide Sales of Elemental technologies Dan Marshall.

India is an emerging market in all senses, and while the developed markets have acknowledged and accepted the diversity in the content being provided, Indian consumers continue to remain relatively new to the OTT space. As Ojha put it, "It is tough to overcome the digital growth when all the players offer similar content, more or less." To tackle the usual misconception, Gandhi replied, "From the outside, it does indeed look quite similar. And it's only early days, but gradually all the OTT players would be unique in their own way. The question, however, is how many players will remain relevant or exist in the business while the market evolves."

The comparison of Indian market to the States, however futile, did generate interesting discussion. Speaking about the same, Marshall explained, "Last year, United States of America had a higher percentage of users on multiple screens than ever before." The comparison concludes how diverse the content several OTT providers generate.

Sodhi emphasised the fact that the present ecosystem has a lot of opportunities and challenges, but also accepts the availability of fair amount of 3G that possibly could solve a lot of digital disruption issues. On how OTTs could capitalise on this, Sodhi explained, "In United States too, there are free models. The debate of what needs to be free or not is an endless one. Every player comes out with its own strength that they can make the most of."

Several telecom and mobile services have cut down their data costs and the panel agreed the changing attitude is welcoming and encouraging. With Ronnie Screwvala, Ajay Chacko ventured into the digital content space through 'Arre', and the COO of the latest media venture understands that disruption is not only happening on the cost end, but the disruption continues to the content end as well. "The reason why people do not mind paying Netflix or Amazon is because of the content that remains exclusively their product," explained Chacko. Krishna echoed the thought and justified that the e-commerce does not lack in the efforts.

Key points raised by panelists:

Uday Sodhi
* Digital advertising is moving faster than the digital content.

* Challenge is to ensure to retain users with your apps


Gaurav Gandhi :
An alternative to the current market could be an option some might look for.
Ajay Chacko :
Streaming will become more profitable than downloads.
Dan Marshall :

* Any content, any stream, any time, any where - Digital Nirvana

* Having a bandwidth is important and so is adapting