We saw the rise and fall of food-tech in the past few years and there are clear lessons that everyone has learnt. First lesson, it is not a gold rush but a rat-race; a maddening race that everyone wants to run or has a mandate to run. Second lesson is to think about the running operations before even conceptualising the product.
Something similar is happening in the Indian OTT space. We at TO THE NEW are already speaking to more than 30 players looking for launching their own platform by the end of 2016 and some in mid of 2017. Majority of these players are targeting the India and this makes me personally very hysterical.
As experts in OTT video space, we engage with clients on consulting assignments where we end up having very quantified discussions with our clients and prospects on the viability of having their own OTT platform or focusing on syndication and both.
I know it is quite an exciting time to be in the video business at this time in India but a word of caution won’t harm anyone. Here is my five point devil’s advocacy for the OTT goldrush:
- If you are a broadcaster; do you really need an OTT platform of your own? With scores of broadcasters having their own app in the making, it will be a chaos for the end user. ‘I am not going to install multiple apps and pay for all of them to have content from multiple channels’. An ROI analysis for exclusive OTT is important before joining the bandwagon. Just because one network has launched it should not be a mandate for another one to do the same. I think focus on syndication might give you better returns because your power is content and not OTT
- In your OTT story, be clear on how, when and what content will be taken from free to AVOD to SVOD and TVOD. It is farcical when OTT’s compare themselves with YouTube and discuss subscribers and viewership in their board rooms. OTT has to be a paid and REVENUE is the only result area. It is highly impossible to have the reach of YouTube with AVOD on any other platform which essentially means that the money will come by subscription or PPV. If you think that acquiring subscribers now and later asking them to pay will help; it is not going to work at all; so beware most of the OTT’s with this plan.
- Being an operations professional with Digital Video, I know that a product mentality will never understand the problems faced in the digital video supply chain. Be it digitization, video editing, transcoding, metadata, imagery or publishing; most of the times it is not planned by the OTT product team thinking that this is a secondary or tertiary issue to resolve and it can’t bother them. Believe me it is easy to get your white elephant, but to maintain it, it is majorly dependent on the digital video supply chain. All your app updates, bells & whistles are nothing if the right content and right amount of content is not ingested; so plan for this much before you even think about the platform development
- When acquiring content, it would be best to have exclusive deals with the content owners. Today Indian content is spread across different platforms; it is very much possible that TV shows and movies which you think can possibly garner you more subscribers are available for free or are in the free package on other platforms
- Producing made for web & app only shows is a NO NO according to me currently. This can be done only when we have an evolved audience who are ready to cut the cord. I do not see this happening for at-least 5-10 years till we have the millenials being the decision makes at home. Of course then, cord cutting will have a better prospect because by that time we will have the cable rates soaring and tending to match USA plus data availability and speeds allowing the video consumptions.
Possibly, within some time, the online video viewership will be more than the total population of USA but the future is not yet set. At-least I am happy that whatever way it shapes up in the next decade, we are going to get free from the melodramatic daily soaps which have ruined India’s taste of TV viewing.