Content farming

OTT players are splurging on 'Originals' to stay ahead

In a country that lives and breathes entertainment, it was only a matter of time before smartphones turned into an addictive device for consuming video content. While the telecom war in the first phase brought down call tariffs, the entry of Jio took the game beyond voice. Since its launch in December 2015, the price of data has fallen by 98%. While the disruption has resulted in bloodied P&L in the telecom space, there’s one business that has been feeding off the data war.

Prior to Jio’s entry, over the top (OTT) video-on-demand players were operating on the fringe, but the dramatic fall in data costs proved to be a massive trigger as video-streaming players, have increased from a handful in 2012 to 34 currently. Right from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to home-grown broadcasters and standalone production houses, everyone is jostling to stay ahead in the online video-streaming game. Just about every OTT heavyweight is pumping big money into creating original content. 

Broadcasters do have an edge with their large library, but given that the target audience for video streaming is mostly in the 18-35 age group, they too have no option but to invest in new content. While TV remains a big draw for advertisers as 614 million individuals tune in daily as against 180 million video viewers, no one wants to miss the video-streaming bus since the segment is expected to grow 10x over five years from the present $500 million. Though Netflix India is the only player that has turned profitable in the very first year of operation, others are spending generously to corner as many subscribers as they can. The splurge has paved the way for content creators to experiment with myriad storylines across genres, which do not find space in TV programming. This issue's cover story by executive editor V Keshavdev details how the OTT battle is playing out. 

Yet another interesting story is about four engineers coming together to change the way the visually impaired learn to read and write. Then, in the markets section, we look at if Sun Pharma can overcome the whistleblower’s allegation of corporate mis-governance at a time when growth has been hard to come by.