“Anything that adds convenience in the consumer's lives will be adopted and we will always do well and that's the core of OTT," said Abhishek Joshi, Head, ShemarooMe in a fireside chat with Uday Sodhi, Founding Partner, Kurate Digital Consulting on Mobile-OTT Fusion: The Next Wave in Digital Entertainment at the exchange4media's The Screenage conference.
The two delved into the growth of OTT and the trends that dominate the ecosystem. "It has added convenience to the consumer‘s life and took them away from appointment viewing and from advertising," Joshi noted.
While discussing the OTT environment and how the sector is evolving, Joshi noted that the industry is only 6-7 years old. "The first OTT started in 2014 from a broadcaster standpoint, and telco OTT began operating two years ago, so the action began in the last few years. Hence, every step that we take is an achievement, is the wrong way to see things," he explained.
He went on to say that OTT was designed to make the lives of consumers easier. "As an industry, we assumed that consumers would pay for premium content that they could not get on television as we transitioned from AVOD to feature-based payment. As a result, the convenience factor was lost in translation. We have roughly 50 million unique users, which adds up to about 120 million cumulative subscribers. Topline subscriptions are valued approximately Rs 5,500 crore and are expected to reach Rs 9,000-10,000 crore in the next two years."
According to Joshi, with almost 450-500 million users using YouTube, India has by far the biggest YouTube audience solely because of the population and for free viewing. He also added that YouTube's true user base in India doubles when piracy and downloads are included.
“If you add piracy download content and then stream, this number doubles up. So the real number is the number of smartphones available which is probably around 700-800 million.”
Taking the conversation ahead, Sodhi compared the numbers with television. He shared that TV today has about 200 million homes and today the number of streamers is 700 million, which means 70 crore people can actually stream on their phones.
Adding to that perspective, Joshi said the universe of streaming is much bigger than fixed television but the disadvantage is that downloaded streamed content can't show ads; so that is not monetized. 500 million are streaming viewers and about 150 million are non-streaming users.”
According to several industry reports the advertising revenue of digital is probably now reaching a point where it's almost the same as television advertising, said Sodhi. While answering Sodhi’s question on how marketers are seeing segmentation of the audience on OTT today, Joshi shared that as an industry and an ecosystem, one should not be proud of it at all.
He said, “This is not the number that we should be looking at. The biggest disadvantage of television and the advantage of streaming platforms is that in television the inventory is only 24 hours. Whereas in digital video streaming the inventory is infinite. Advertising in an OTT or a video streaming platform is much more expensive than any other advertising.”
He also warned brands should stop thinking only about ROI and tart taking risks and a little more experiments. "What we need to do as a marketing advertising community is to build trust and stop looking for ROIs at least for a couple of campaigns. Look for brand love, recall and affinity. As soon as you start measuring only ROI then it is an everyday execution activity that is not strategic," Joshi concluded.
Joshi while speaking about the ShemarooMe’s plans and road map ahead, he shared that Shemaroo me is known for its Gujarati content but if you divide India to four, north, east, south and west each division has one OTT app. Regional OTT apps have a first mover's advantage. According to him, other regional apps have content in one language except ShemarooMe which has content in six different languages.
“We are a very small player in the Indian OTT ecosystem. The other piece is we are the number one regional app solely by numbers. Numbers, revenues, MAUs, DAUs are all outputs. I am trying to fix the inputs. The inputs have to be content, tech and people.”