Almost half a decade has passed since the streaming wars have started in the west, and now is the right time for India to be a part of this evolution. Online media entertainment in the west has evolved with world famous services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO NOW and many of the other big names.
Although many of the small over-the-top video-on-demand (OTT VOD) services by Reliance (Bigflix), EROS (EROS Now), Hotstar (by 21st Century Fox) and few more were already there, but still streaming has never been the first choice of Indians and the reasons are truly legit :
- The bandwidth in India is pretty low as compared to most of the developed countries, and even if you have an unlimited internet plan, the fair usage policy is here to spoil the fun.
- Indian cable and dish network plans are pretty cheap.
- And last but not the least, torrent is not banned in India, so we can get any of the premium content easily for free.
Even after all these technological barriers many of the big media entertainment industries are showing interest in the Indian market. World’s biggest streaming giant Netflix has already set foot in India in January 2016, the free Hotstar has gone premium and Hooq (a joint venture of Warner Bros and SONY Pictures) an Asian video streaming service is also coming to India in June 2016. This shows how streaming wars are affecting India and its local streaming services. Now let’s take a look at different streaming services in the Indian market.
Emerging and Upcoming OTT VOD services in India
Netflix might be new to Indians, but it has been ruling the world for more than 5 years. Netflix was launched in India in January 2016. Even though the service has a great catalog of both TV shows and movies in the west, but it was launched with only 7% of the total content available to the audience of USA.
Also, the per month cost of the service was also same as that of the subscribers of USA and the service was lacking, even with its famous original programming like Narcos, House Of Cards etc. This is the reason why Netflix was not able to attract a lot of paid subscribers. As for now Netflix has substantially increased the size of its catalog with both quality and quantity and started gaining the trust of Indians.
Star India launched Hotstar in January 2015 with its beta version and went live in February. The service was initiated with local live sports and a few Indian television shows, which usually were telecasted on Star and its subsidiaries. The service was ad-supported and totally free.
Recently Hotstar has joined hands with Home Box Office Inc. (HBO), which offers more than 30 of the premium HBO’s original shows including Game Of Thrones, Silicon Valley, Girls and many more. Because of this deal, Hotstar went Premium which costs Rs. 200 a month. Even after this transformation, the service is pretty affordable as compared to the other platforms serving the same quality and titles.
TVF Play is one of kind service which is very popular among youngsters, probably the most famous emerging service of India. TVF focuses more on youth related topics with a comic flavor, the shows are admired by both the audience and the critics, one of their show TVF Pitchers got a blazing 9.5 rating on IMDb. The service is free of cost, and according to Biswapati Sarkar(Creative Director of TVF) as for now the service is focusing on their originals and are not planning for any premium business model.
Upcoming OTT VOD Services
Voot is the latest service launched by Viacom 18 for the Indian market. Viacom has launched the beta version of Voot in March 2016 and has not gone live until now. The content catalog covers both English and Hindi TV shows and Movies. Both the catalogs are pretty decent, including some of the most popular shows of Indian and Western television like Bigg Boss, Jersey Shore, Friendzone, Coke Studio and many more.
Unlike Voot, Hooq is not a new name in video streaming world, the service has already been established in Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. Also unlike other less popular and new services Hooq is not a free platform. The basic plan is of Rs. 250 a month, which includes simultaneous streaming on 5 screens.
The content library is pretty weak as a premium service, although there are few good titles like Harry Potter, Friends, Spartacus etc. One good thing about the service is that it also has a downloading feature which makes it unique. The number of downloads is unlimited but you can download only 5 titles simultaneously.
Well, apart from these, there are many other free movies streaming websites and services like EROS NOW, Bigflix, Box TV, Spuul etc. These services have been here for a long time but haven’t gained much popularity because of the lack of international content, but they are good for maintaining diversity.
Streaming might not be very well accepted by the Indian community, but what attracts the big companies like Netflix, SONY, Viacom, HBO Inc. is the large smartphone using population of India. Well, a time will come when Indians will consume more of our data in streaming as we are the second largest internet using nation in the world, and obviously the future of streaming business is bright.
Well, Guys! this was my opinion on the arrival of streaming wars in India, share your opinion about streaming with us in the comment section below. Also, tell us about the services you are using and how is your experience with them so far?
This is a guest contribution from Akshay Joshi.