MUMBAI: Streaming services or OTT platforms are bringing in a variety of curated content, targeting a large section of users. In spite of their reach and deep understanding of their consumers, these platforms are unable to evolve business models that can bring in ad revenue, along with subscription revenue.
The top few players like Netflix have remained ad free, as they believe that the subscription model is catching up amongst Indians. “It is a great time to be in the subscription business across media like The Ken or ET Prime in journalism, or Netflix. People are getting more comfortable with online payments and telecom companies are also helping bundle services,” said Abhishek Nag, director of partnerships at Netflix.
Ads: Work in progress
The monetisation engine of TV is robust and transparent, said Gaurav Banerjee, head of Hindi GEC at Star India. “In TV, we know exactly which geography is watching, how much is being watched, and if it is going up or down. Advertisers can decide whether it is right or not for the brand. We have not thought about putting these measurement systems in digital,” he said. The group has a streaming service named Hotstar.
Streaming service players until now have been busy perfecting their own systems, bringing in new subscribers and devising content that would suit the needs of consumers who prefer on-demand services. Yet, players are simultaneously working on ad-perfecting their streaming services, while a few others are marketing ad-free content as their USP.
Experts, however, feel that to be able to reach the high popularity of TV, streaming services should embrace ads. Tarun Katial, chief executive officer of ZEE5, believes that the secret lies in volumes. “Zee has a foundation and depth in regional language content, and we have enabled voice search to be able to expand it. Because unless we have volumes, we can’t get ads. Apart from millions of views, we also have to personalise it to enable targeting, so that we make it worthwhile for the advertisers,” he said.
Too many players
Streaming services might follow the example of targeted ads much like Google and Facebook, where large volumes of video are consumed. However, experts are worried that the extensive growth in the number of platforms might fragment the ad pie for them. “But I believe that by 2022, the number of players in this space will be lower than 10, in single digits. That is when real realisation of value will happen in terms of subscription and ads,” said Raj Nayak, former COO of Viacom18.