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Video entertainment: It is either the mobile way or the highway

The definition of video entertainment in India is transforming as service providers are constantly innovating to suit the dynamic taste and preferences of the new-age consumer. The advent of smartphones can be accredited with the transition in the entertainment journey of India consumers. Video entertainment is shifting online which is evident from a comScore report which registered a 27 per cent growth in Indian online video audience.

Amid this frenzy of transition in the entertainment industry, live television mobile application #fame has entered the Indian market to lure the consumer with the taste of live television. “Entertainment has gone through paradigm shift where video has experienced fastest growth in digital media,” said Saket Saurabh, Chief Executive Officer of #fame.

#fame in the live television market in India and has been positioned to leverage to shift of television viewing to Video on Demand in India. As per an Ericsson 2014 report, television has already become the less prominent compared to mobile, with an average consumer spending a little more than three hours on their smartphones against two hours on TV. The launch of #fame was in response to this trend of mobile first and mobile only community in India and hence the addition of 50,000 performers and 10 million app downloads in just six months.

Besides #fame offering live content, there are other players in the Indian market such as Hotstar, NexGTV, Sony Liv, and Tata Sky Live Tv which are trying to make headways into the digital video entertainment space.

Hotstar’s launch in January had created a buzz in the India market with over 35,000 hours worth of content in seven different languages. The eighth edition of Indian Premier League clocked 200 million views on the live streaming app, up from 61 million views in the previous season. The platform claims to have witnessed the fastest adoption among digital services in India.

Sony Liv and NexGTv have been in the market since January 2013 and March 2012, respectively, but all are struggling for a larger market share in digital video entertainment despite their seniority in the market.

Tata Sky’s Live TV mobile application has also progressed in the market to grab a share of the mobile video entertainment inclined audience in India. Launched in October 2013, “…the application has positioned itself as a multi-screen entertainment platform offering a bouquet of channels across production houses”, shared Malay Dikshit, Chief Communication Officer of Tata Sky.

To attract more viewers, the live TV apps compete to bring an exclusive event to the viewers. While Hotstar got the rights for streaming IPL, NexGTV bagged exclusive rights for the premier of Tennis Grand Slam Roland Garros 2015 which was telecasted on the Star Sports Network otherwise. Additionally, #fame hosted the live coverage of IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) Awards for mobile users and Sony Liv premiered its new show ‘Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanumaan’ for its mobile app users prior its television debut to encourage app downloads.

Catalysts of digital video
Younger population, affordability of handsets and data packs have fueled the growth of mobile penetration in India. “Mobile is fast becoming the first, preferred, primary and at times, the only source for Indians to watch live TV, movies, TV shows and videos on demand,” G D Singh, Director and Chief Executive Officer of Digivive Services pointed out.

Video entertainment on mobile is being driven by 15-34 year olds who make up 75 per cent of the mobile video consumption in India, redefining ‘traditional TV’ into an ‘on-demand mode’, independent of location and platform, added Mr Singh. The youth is also guiding the higher appetite for mobile video which has surpassed the global average, according to Mr Singh.

An opportunity that video publishers in India will be looking forward to is real-time interactivity on video through the mobile device. Mobile video is underway as publishers are distributing content on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Going forward, engagement and content are going to be key in the field of video entertainment in India, according to experts.

Content is King
Further with change of medium, there has been an alteration in the taste of consumer as now they are more inclined towards short-form video content, according to Mr Saurabh. Therefore, it is evident from the need for original, relative and valuable content, that content is King even in the digital video space.

“Quality content, together with the social media penetration, the concept of ‘digital snacking’ – consuming succinct, engaging and visually-appealing morsels of content digestible on mobile devices is fast gaining traction for the segment that numbers nearly 150 million in India,” said Mr Singh.

The road ahead
Over the next few months, live television in India will constitute the biggest proportion of current consumption and guide the ‘video on demand’ category in the country, and emerge as the consumption front-runner. But unfortunately, large portion of the consumption remains limited to news and sports, and other categories will require more time to develop a foothold in the market.

Currently, the Indian market is free of competition from established international players such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus, but if these players plan to venture into the Indian markets, local players such as #fame, nexGTv and Sony Liv may stand the risk of losing their lead in the market.

“But the tag of ‘content creators’ will continue to differentiate our business from that of international players who are largely ‘content aggregators’,” said a Star TV spokesperson. “We are offering a wide range of content across sports, television series and movies which international players lack. So, we do not see entry of international players as a threat,” he added.

In a bid to draw more consumers for its application, Hotstar has tied-up with Android mobile phone manufacturers to have the app preloaded. This move might help Hotstar to beef up the visibility of their app and gain a larger base in the market.

Option such as social sharing, live chat, tagging, etc will set the age of online video entertainment different from television viewing. Such features will make the content more engaging and draw the viewers into the conversation. Further, Mr Saurabh said, “The growth of mobile in the Indian market has lead to the creation of original content for mobile and publishers are making content with that sensibility.”

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