Industry and internet search data show that viewership on OTT platforms actually increased in April, especially in smaller cities. The early effect didn’t last equally across all platforms, but net viewer numbers are still much higher than in the months leading up to the pandemic.
Paid subscriptions to OTT video platforms rose to 29 million by July, a jump of 31% in just four months. This is shown by the latest estimate by the India Brand Equity Foundation.
The increase was 5 million in April alone, the largest in a month.
However, Google search trends show a mixed picture in the second half of the year. Search traffic for Amazon’s Prime Video declined slightly after a spectacular increase in April to November. Most searches were limited to metropolitan areas and a few Tier I cities in February, but interest spread to several lower-level cities in April. However, fewer smaller cities appeared in November. For some other platforms like Netflix and Hotstar, the small-town surge has continued a bit.
Search interest in Prime Video can be a key indicator of the fate of such platforms as it was the biggest win during the lockdown. Data from Sensor Tower, a US-based research firm, showed that downloads for most OTT platforms increased from April through June. Prime Video received 12.6 million downloads in India on the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store during the reporting period, 45% more than in March. Next up was ZEE5, an Indian subscription-based video-on-demand service, with 10.6 million downloads.
For ZEE5, profits remained enormous over the course of the year. Even in November, the platform registered 2.6 times as many new subscribers as a year ago, a spokesman said. The number of subscribers in 2020 was three times that of the previous year.
MX Player, a video-on-demand service based on advertising rather than paid subscriptions, is said to have had 200 million active users as of November.
“Not only did we see a 4 to 5-fold increase in the number of users and their viewing time this year, but we managed to keep them,” said Karan Bedi content manager for the first time after years of linear content seen on TV seem to like them. “
Bedi said the audience was predominantly male, but the proportion of female viewers had increased during the lockdown. “We also saw an increase in depth, with more viewers from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities,” he added.
A YouGov poll of 8,218 respondents conducted from May through June confirmed a similar trend. It has been found that women are more likely to consume on-demand video than men. More people in Tier 1 cities reported increased intake, but viewers from smaller cities weren’t far behind.
Streaming platforms have responded to these trends, and this could continue into 2021. Several women-centric shows and films have been released that year, including Aarya on Hotstar, Shakuntala Devi and Thappad on Prime Video, and Flesh on Eros Now. In a blog post, Netflix India, Gunjan Saxena said: The Kargil Girl and Raat Akeli Hai – films with strong female lead roles – were the most popular drama and thriller films in India this year.
Jamtara: Sabka Number Aayega, a small town-based series, had the longest run among Indian titles in Netflix’s top 10 rankings in India. However, regional language content was not far away. Several Indian language shows and films dominated Internet search trends and sparked conversation in online forums. Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, a Telugu movie on Netflix, had one of the highest Google search volumes, even more than Ludo and Panchayat.
However, a pioneer was a show produced abroad. Money robbery similar on Netflix game of Thrones in earlier years.
All of these bode well for India’s online streaming sector. The industry would have grown in the coming years anyway, but would have received a massive boost from the cessation of television recordings at the beginning of the lockdown. A recent report from PwC found that India is now the fastest growing country in the world
OTT market, whose revenues already exceed that of the box office.
The only big job the sector has in the New Year, however, is to keep the interest of the sizable small town market alive.