Info-tech

Four ways Apple TV+ can become a success story in India

Annapurani. V Chennai | Updated on October 30, 2019 Published on October 30, 2019

The Apple store in Manhattan, New York   -  REUTERS

Ramalingam, a businessman from Chennai’s Chromepet locality, was delighted when he heard that Apple’s online video streaming service Apple TV+ would be available at ₹99 per month from November 1. He would finally be able to realise his dream of owning an Apple product without burning a hole in his pocket.

Thanks to the availability of high speed internet at low prices and a plethora of on-demand video content streaming platforms that cater to the various sensibilities of the Indian audience, the over-the-top (OTT) market is seeing increasing traction, with the number of online video consumers expected to hit more than 500 million by FY 2023, according to a recent KPMG report titled ‘Unravelling the digital video consumer’.

And Apple is looking to gain a share of this market, with Apple TV+. Sure, it will be cheaper than other subscription video-on- demand platforms such as Netflix (₹199/month for mobile users) and Amazon Prime Video (₹129/month). But would that be sufficient for the Cupertino electronics giant to capitalise a decent share of what is expected to become the second biggest OTT market in the world?

Well, here are four ways through which the company can widen its presence in India through Apple TV+.

Tie-up with telcos

Every time Rajeswari, an IT executive, recharges her Airtel number for ₹299, she not only gets 2.5 gigabytes of data every day, but also access to Amazon Prime Video for free, for the month. It saves her the pain of logging into the streaming platform and subscribing to it separately, which she is unsure she would, if the service doesn’t come bundled with her mobile/internet bill.

Almost all OTT players in India are now tying up with telecom companies to capitalise on their reach and maximise their audience. Hotstar, for instance, has partnered with Airtel and Jio. Netflix has tied up with Airtel and Vodafone Idea, and Amazon Prime Video, Airtel, BSNL and Vodafone Idea.

In fact, according to the KPMG report, nearly 7 per cent of OTT users subscribe to video-on-demand platforms due to ease of payment through telecom platforms and 43 per cent of subscription video on demand consumers, who view paid content but don’t pay for it, get access to the programmes through free subscription from telecom apps. So if Apple needs a leg up for Apple TV+ in India, telecom platforms are certainly a gateway to reach a wider consumer base in the country.

Stream relatable content

About 64 per cent of online video consumers prefer to watch shows in Hindi and nearly 30 per cent like to watch content in regional languages in India. The preference to consume content in English is 6 per cent, which is less than the English-speaking population in the country, according to a survey by KPMG for the report.

The success of any OTT platform in India depends on two key aspects, says Girish Menon, Partner and Head, Media and Entertainment at KPMG.

One, the distribution and hence the ability to reach a large subscriber base. Two, the offering in terms of content and pricing, which translates into a value for money proposition that users can relate to.

The regionalisation aspect that a platform brings to the table is also increasingly gaining importance as the online video subscriber base penetrates into tier II and tier III cities, he adds.

India has the second-highest number of internet users in the world – it currently has over 560 million consumers (according to Internet World Stats) — and this number is only set to grow. Plus, over 40 per cent of this population is from rural India.

In order to fully capitalise on this market, Apple has to invest in content that will speak the language of the people. It has to stream shows that do not just cater to the taste of English-speaking consumers, but that are relatable to a majority of the Indian OTT audience.

Provide bang for the buck

Apple TV+, with its attractive price plan of ₹99 a month (the service is also included free for a year for customers who purchase an Apple device), is sure to draw attention. But will it be enough to keep consumers hooked to the platform?

According to data from KalaGato, Netflix has an uninstall rate (calculated on a month over month basis) of 9.87 per cent, which is more than twice Hotstar’s (4.82 per cent) or JioTV’s (4.27 per cent), and over four times that of MX Player’s (2.06 per cent). Amazon Prime Video also has an uninstall rate of 6.36 per cent.

Aman Kumar, Chief Business Officer, KalaGato, says this could be because of the free trials that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video offer. Because consumers often download and use the app during the trial period, but do not want to switch to paid services, he adds.

Some users also get onto a platform only to watch a particular television show or a movie and then log out, because they are yet to get used to online subscription services. Plus, OTT players also have to compete with the byte-size streaming and video-sharing platforms that are available for free and provide the required entertainment fix. “While the price point will certainly play a key deciding factor, Indian customers have traditionally opted for services that provide bang for the buck,” Ankur Pahwa, Partner, Ernst & Young LLP, says.

Stand out from the crowd

Only two out of the six international on-demand video streaming platforms in India – Netflix and Amazon Prime Video – feature in the top ten. There are already over 40 OTT video streaming platforms catering to different segments and operating models in the market, each vying for a share of the consumer’s time and wallet.

From mobile-only subscription to bundled services, to live coverage of events such as the IPL matches, these companies are exploring opportunities to garner customer interest and more importantly, to stand out from the crowd.

In order to make its presence felt, Apple must be a differentiator and not an imitator, says Pahwa. To gain an edge in the Indian OTT market, it is imperative that Apple focusses on putting together compelling original content that caters to the palate of the Indian audience and tempts consumers enough so they choose its platform along with or over the rest.

Published on October 30, 2019
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