5 Mega Changes In India's Online Video Space

by Sohini Bagchi    Jun 02, 2016

online videos

The video industry in India is currently witnessing a shift in gears. Mobile is overtaking traditional platforms such as TV to become the preferred screen for a majority of Indians. With the increasing availability of sub-$100 Android devices, and proliferation of data plans, Indians are today consuming entertainment and information ‘on-the-go’ like never before.

According to March 2016 data by ComScore Inc, a digital research and marketing agency, India’s online video viewership stood at 81.7 million viewers, while total time spent on videos was 23.3 billion minutes. The numbers are expected to rise significantly in the coming months. Here are some key changes that have taken and will continue to take the online video market in India by storm. 

1. Mobile Videos - short and catchy

Mobile videos are here to stay with more people having access to mobile devices and are choosing to view videos on their mobile devices, especially on larger screens like phablets. A recent report by Ericsson states that it expects a tenfold surge in mobile data traffic between 2015 and 2021. The report projects that video is expected to increase its share of total mobile traffic in 2021 to 70 percent, up from around 50 percent in 2015. Analysts note that OTT video-streaming providers like YouTube and Netflix are being the primary growth drivers. 

Read more: How Phablets Are Changing Video Consumption In India

Jessica Ekholm, Research Director at Gartner states that the availability of more affordable 3G and 4G handsets is fuelling growth in mobile data traffic. Gartner expects video streaming to account for over 60 percent of mobile data traffic in 2018, as consumers increase the number of videos they watch and upload. “Fast, uninterrupted, video experiences encourage people to increase their video usage,” Ekholm said.

Mobile videos are short and catchy and hence are increasingly attracting the attention of viewers. Over 60 percent of overall ad views for video less than 20 minutes, states video ad platform FreeWheel in a research. Experts opine that in the already crowded online video marketing space, only those brands that adapt their strategy to mobile will survive.

2. The Rise Of Video Advertisements

eMarketer estimates that mobile is a small but growing component of digital advertising in India. The research firm predicted that digital and mobile internet ad spending around the world pegged mobile spending in India at $173.2 million in 2015, set to double to $346.5 million by the end of this year. That will amount to 29.5% of digital ad spending, or 4.9% of total media budgets.

By 2019, advertisers in India will be spending much more on mobile placements around $1.32 billion. That will account for a majority of all digital ad spending (60.9%), and 15.5% of total media advertising in India.

Experts believe ad networks like Facebook, Google, among others are certain to generate a chunk of the digital revenue. Moreover, publishers who operate across platform—print, digital (including mobile and video), social and events—and have brand collateral to leverage licensing opportunities, will presumably thrive.

Rohan Patil, Managing Director, AppLift India said, “There’s an intense competition in this space amid growth. He believes even though Facebook remains the dominant multi-billion dollar player in the space, there are likely to be numerous platforms that assert themselves to different degrees this year and some will expect to perform well.”

In an interaction with CXOtoday, Patil gave an example of Instagram’s advertising offering, which leverages Facebook’s API, has proven popular since its launch in September and is likely to offer a highly effective programmatic solution in 2016 onwards.

3. Video storytelling for greater appeal

The new online consumer is quite tech savvy and will easily see through the sales-like tone of a promotional video. Therefore, to gain more traction, video ads will feel more like stories and less like commercials. If brands want people to talk about them or their videos offline or online, they have to make them more engaging and shareable, according to advertising professional Neel Biswas. 

Sunny Arora, CEO, Broadcast2world mentioned, “It comes as no surprise that some of the best communication in the world are stories well told. Stories make the biggest impact and have the strongest emotional connect in the least amount of time. Which is why, behind the success of every great brand, lies a great story.” And it is here that video storytelling has a role to play.

Take for example, the Paper Boat ad, the traditional Indian drinks brand, that takes us on a nostalgic walk down memory lane and narrates stories from our childhoods, or Raymond: The Complete Man, one of those timeless brand propositions and it even finds relevance in today’s context, as told as a story-film, Arora said.

These purpose-built native video ads that are usually longer than 30 seconds and they can be used both to educate and entertain audiences, will continue to grow, believe experts. 

Read more: OTT Is Clearly The Next Big Thing In India

4. Virtual Reality to become big

According to estimates, Virtual reality device sales will hit 14 Mn units in 2016. Facebook-owned Oculus, HTC, Samsung and Sony are all vying for their piece of this emerging market. According to Global research firm TrendForce, VR Games require much lesser resources than VR movies and first person games in particular can be ported to VR devices with relative ease. Lesser time requirement and lower cost will be strong incentives for game developers who are going to be the major content providers for VR hardware. Experts see 2016 as the year when VR becomes a reality for the average consumer.

Take for example the Tata Motors ad, to promote its newly launched Tiago car — bundling a free virtual reality headset with leading newspapers, having a separate supplement bundled with the main newspaper, featuring a full-page ad of the car, soccer star Lionel Messi and the free VR headset. Tata is promoting its car by asking users to download its app that lets users watch a virtual drive of the new Tiago.

Those interested can either head over to the YouTube app for watching the 360 degree virtual drive video, or download the Tiago Virtual Drive app from the Play Store or the App Store.

There are however challenges as well. It requires costly equipment and skillsets. This may lead to greater consolidation and partnerships in the industry, believe analysts.

5. Video On Demand to thrive

Globally, Video on Demand(VOD) or Over the top (OTT) video services are gaining more traction among viewers. The global market for VOD was US$ 207 Billion in 2014 and it is set to reach US$263 Billion in 2016. And Asia Pacific region is going to surpass Western Europe as the second largest market for VOD after US.

In recent months, a slew of announcements were made in India’s digital online video space. Star India launched Hotstar, a mobile TV app. Netflix announced its entry to the India market this year. More recently, Eros International, India’s largest film studio dropped its TV business plan to focus on ErosNow, its online video service.

According to Vincent Low, Director, Product Marketing, Media, Akamai Technologies, VOD growth story will be huge in India with more and more people beginning to watch videos online than on television. “The audience is present. The onus is on the content providers to deliver,” he said. 

With an increase of VOD providers, streaming devices will also increase in number. The North American market is already crowded with Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire etc. 2016 might see manufacturers from other geographies also hopping on the bandwagon with their hardware offerings.

India is going to lead the emerging markets in the smartphone growth in the next few years.  As Kedar Gavane, country head for ComScore, in India, was quoted in a LiveMint article, in which he stated that original content services have seen a “manifold” increase in the past few months. “Original digital video programming is attracting a growing audience – especially younger viewers 18-34 who are highly desirable for many advertisers,” he said.

It is this drive to become ‘digital citizens’ that will push consumption of this media beyond the boundaries and capabilities of the internet infrastructure in India in the coming years.