CQ. ALT Balaji is a frontrunner in India both as a content producer as well as online content distribution. How do you view the development of OTT market in India so far?
Sunil Lulla: With the growing Indian economy, OTT video revenue in India has been pegged at ` 2,019 crore in 2017, according to the PwC report. It is expected to reach ` 5,595 crore by 2022. Like the rest of the world, Indian audiences are quickly building the habit of binge viewing, in a non-linear way, ie OTT way. The current content in the market place, offers a larger share of library product and catch up TV. Herein ALT Balaji’s proposition is more in line with global trends of ‘ Original Exclusive’. Ie Content which is made for ALT Balaji and not available outside its OTT platform and platforms of its partners.
Indians' appetite for binge-watching online videos is increasing by the day and will probably put the country amongst the top ten OTT video markets in the world in the coming years.
CQ. Although there are 1 billion phones in India yet most of them are featureless basic phones or phones used for enterprise operations. Broadband speeds are also very low yet. What do you think the future holds for OTT service under such conditions?
Sunil Lulla: The year 2016 witnessed 62% growth in mobile broadband speed to reach 4.1 mpbs, which further increased to 8 mbps by end of 2017. The launch of 4G services by Reliance Jio saw a rapid increase in data consumption across the country triggered by falling data prices by over 90%. With this the country is poised to witness the entrance of first time internet users especially from smaller towns and rural areas, with internet population expected to cross 800 million by 2021.
The cheaper access to data has led to an exponential increase in the availability of low cost smartphones in the price range of `3000 to `5000, enabling consumers from smaller towns and rural areas to access high quality video on demand. There is a growing consumer acquisition of smart phones which are priced over `10,000/ In the coming years, with prices coming down, access will expand. With trends pointing towards a fundamental shift in the way end users consume data, the same is likely to be a game changing moment for the OTT players.
CQ. What according to you are the likely business models to succeed in India in the realm of online content distributors.
Sunil Lulla: OTT Brands which can create the content and create the habit of binge viewing will succeed. The category at present skews younger, ie under 40 years of age and the top 8 cities are the big audience markets. This will all expand, with growing data connectivity and the growth in content. Some models are advertising dependent and some are subscription dependent. Globally OTT is cultivating a strong habit of subscription. Globally understanding data and developing content on those lines, is pushing success for OTT Players. We are still very much in the early stage for OTT , but India will leapfrog as it did with mobile. Business models will evolve but get stronger. Content is here to rule and stay.
CQ. What do you think the future of conventional distribution systems like Cable TV and DTH? How long can they survive?
Sunil Lulla: This is a huge industry and there is space for all. Cable and DTH TV access is very reasonably priced, as is OTT at present. Cable Audiences tend to be viewers who access content with others, family members, hence the nature of content they access is friendlier to family needs or for common viewing. OTT is watch anywhere, anytime and is more personal. Hence each member of the family may want to view different kinds of content. For content to grow, Cinema, TV, OTT – all must grow.