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A growing middle class, rising disposable incomes, high volume of content consumption and a favourable regulatory environment are driving the digital media industry and helping it flourish.

The global media and entertainment industry has witnessed significant technological and market changes in the last decade. In India, the changes have been even more rapid given the rising internet penetration in rural India and far-reaching policy changes.
The government’s initiative ‘Digital India’ envisions India as a digitally empowered society. The launch of 4G services by top telecom operators, cutting-edge technological advancements in the device ecosystem and strategies by industry’s leading organisations to promote data uptake have led to far-reaching changes in the digital ecosystem. Today’s consumer is more digitally savvy than before, seeking compelling content and personalised experience across content – viewing platforms. The proliferation of 4G-ready smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices has enhanced the consumer experience.
We are living in an era of on-demand, any-time, anywhere content. Consumers are accessing media outside the confines of their couches and within the comfort of their personalised 5+ inch screens. The ‘lean forward’ mode of access to content on desk-top personal computers that we witnessed for almost three decades has now evolved into a ‘lean-back’ approach with the proliferation of mobile devices. Moreover, the mobile screen is no longer restricted to the elite as the video is going mass at a rapid pace. As the consumption grows, the Over the Top (OTT) consumers will demand seamless access to services, compelling stories and value for money. To deliver the same, platforms would require an intuitive understanding of what consumers want, without the users having to ask for it.
Further, other enablers such as the government of India’s ‘Digital India’ initiative, growing usage of affordable smartphones, rising internet penetration in rural India, and rapid growth of digital payments have strengthened India’s digital infrastructure. This has resulted in video dominating data consumption and this trend will continue to grow.

Emerging opportunities

Trends in online searches reflect that entertainment is the largest sought-after category. Videos and music currently represent the highest proportion of consumer preferences in the entertainment category. Also, studies indicate the choice of Indian consumer towards regional language with 91 per cent of the time spent on videos being in Hindi and local languages.
Varied players such as telecom operators, content aggregators, media companies and DTH players have ventured into the OTT space and are leveraging their strengths to establish a foothold in the market.

Changing consumer preference

Consumer preferences and content consumption patterns over the internet have evolved over a period of time. This evolution is expected to drive and determine the focus areas for the growth in India’s OTT market. Short form and snackable content is primarily driving the growth in the consumption of digital media and is mainly driven by the younger audience.

1. Original snackable content

Currently, most of the Indian OTT players have similar content libraries of TV shows or movies without much differentiation. However, with increasing competition and new entrants in the market, the focus is shifting towards content differentiation by providing original content.

2. Focus on differentiation

The increasing inclination of the Indian audience towards short-form content has led to OTT platforms focusing on more of this. Media networks like AIB and TVF (running favourite YouTube channels in the comedy genre) have been able to garner considerable market traction. Also, players like Hot Star are inking deals with popular content producers like AIB.

3. Platforms driving digital media consumption

The different OTT players also face unique challenges:
• Devise-based players have pre-loaded Apps and handsets targeted at existing users.
• Telcos provide built-in payment options through network billing and incentives for data usage.
• Media organisations are leveraging their existing content libraries and offering Ad-based products.
• Content aggregators have opted for a premium model providing long-term content and targeting NRI audiences.

4. Increasing demand for vernacular content

The next wave of growth in Indian digital media consumption is expected from non-metro and rural areas where the wireless mobile internet will play a pivotal role. The regional language content demand is estimated to grow at 56 per cent user growth and 52 per cent site traffic growth between 2016 and 2020.

5. Specific content for focused Target Groups

The phase of new digital India is expected to be far more diverse and will rapidly change from the old familiar figure of an urban, upper middle class, middle-aged male. The preferred services will match the day-to-day demands of a diverse income household, regional language-based and, more often, from tier-II and tier-III cities.
As the digital audience is shifting from the familiar persona, there will emerge an opportunity to create Target Group (TG) specific content in both fiction and non-fiction areas. We will also witness the emergence of new content producers for genre-centric, women-centric and children-centric content on multiple platforms.
As developments in technology continue to enable content and entertainment to reach all of India’s large population, the role of
digital media in India’s growth story cannot be overstated. With the increasing footprint of digital users and content adoption, a significant boost will be experienced by the digital media sector, attracting foreign investments, thus contributing to the overall growth of the economy.

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