Exclusive content is turning out to be one of the biggest drivers in the OTT space. Eros Now has it, as does home-grown video on demand player Zee5 and ALT Balaji. Amazon Prime and Netflix are competing against each other, as are Hotstar and Voot — with original content becoming the differentiator.

As streaming video companies compete in the Indian market, set to grow 80 per cent to 300 million by 2022 from 170 million now, according to market research company RedSeer, OTT majors are spending crores on original podcasts and content to attract and retain subscribers.

E-commerce companies such as Flikart and food tech delivery unicorn Zomato have also taken the bait, eager to make their presence felt in the growing OTT space. Even Gemplex, an entertainment platform, has entered the OTT space with a vast catalogue of exclusive multilingual content.

Gemplex’s Prakash Tiwari notes, “Despite existing OTT content, we noticed a growing demand for exclusive and unique content that would keep users hooked to the platform. Gemplex is into ideation, curation, and production of content. Our aim is to help generate high quality and engaging content.”

Arun Gupta, Founder and CEO of mobile tech company MoMagic Technologies concurs. He says OTT has become a marketing strategy for many tech companies “with possibility of generating additional revenue.” Most players tend to rely on their own original content, he adds, so as not to get embroiled in the territory streaming-rights battle.

Deep pockets

A dominant player in India, US-based streaming giant Netflix has already thrown its hat in the ring. Netflix Chairman and CEO Reed Hastings said the company is looking to invest ₹3,000 crore for original content in India.

He was speaking to the media in New Delhi and outlined how the streaming video company plans to invest millions to locally produce and license content.

Not to be outdone, Amazon Prime Video, the global platform, is looking to double it original content offering for India.

An estimate from BTIG research notes Amazon will spend $5-6 billion globally on content, while Netflix is likely to spend about $15 billion.

Television broadcaster Star India-owned video streaming platform Hotstar, which registered 2X installs in 2019 versus 2018 with 555 installs per minute in 2019, is beaming all the way to the bank. The platform has registered 3X growth in consumption this year as compared to last year.

Varun Narang, EVP and Chief Product Officer, Hotstar, says the accelerated growth of the Indian video entertainment ecosystem has had an unprecedented impact on the consumer. Narang says the growing accessibility “has opened doors to new thoughts and ideas that are shaping a stereo-type-defying consumer.”

Hotstar is also looking to capture the Indian market with its original content and is to make original movies under its Hotstar Special label.

A recent report by KPMG in India and Eros Now suggests Hotstar has set aside ₹120 crore to make special shows in seven different languages for the Indian market, while Zee5 intends to release 72 new originals in six languages till March 2020. Eros Now has already spent ₹356 crore to create 100 new original shows.

Last month, the South Asian OTT entertainment platform Eros Now with more than 177 million registered users, announced a collaboration with YouTube Music in India. Eros Now has a content library of 12,000-plus movies, TV shows, Eros Now Originals and short-format content — Eros Now Quickie. The collaboration will let users get access to YouTube Music’s catalogue including tracks in English, Hindi and nine other Indian languages.

YouTube is also looking to strengthen its presence with ‘YouTube Originals’, amplifying the streaming-video boom playing across the country.

There is more to come next year. Research by Ampere Analysis reveals online streamers have increased their spending budgets from $2 billion in 2013, to $19 billion in 2018. Though most of the streamers’ spending in the past was based on content acquisition, with Netflix and Amazon spending more than $13 billion on content acquisition in 2018, original programming will now become a bigger part of their strategies.