Three Indian over-the-top (OTT) players figure in the top grossing applications’ list of Google’s Play Store. Latest data (as on February 1) shows that Zee5, ALTBalaji and SonyLIV are among the top ten in the list of apps that are paid for (called top grossing apps in industry parlance), behind Netflix, which is number two.
In the list of free apps, Hotstar, Zee5, JioTV and SonyLIV figure in the top 10, according to Play Store. Zee5 and SonyLIV, for the record, figure in the second list because they have some content that is free.
In fact, of the top eight free apps, seven are Indian, says Play Store, pointing to how price-conscious Indians are. The paid apps, too, have aggressive pricing in keeping with the market realities here, experts said.
Nachiket Pantvaidya, CEO of ALTBalaji and Group COO of Balaji Telefilms, believes that being in the top grossing apps’ list — at a nominal subscription fee (Rs 25 per month) as compared to global giant Netflix (Rs 500 per month) — is testimony to the fact that there is appreciation for clutter-breaking content in a competitive market like India.
“Being a completely subscription-dependant service, it is heartening to see that we’re up there in the top ten. This also gives us confidence to continue doing what we are doing. While we have a legacy in producing content, we had to make the transition to being an (OTT) platform. So, we went from being a production house to an IP owning unit,” he explains.
Original content seems to be the buzzword for entertainment apps that feature in the list. While Netflix has released a slew of India originals, ALTBalaji has ramped up its presence in the space from six shows at launch to 30 so far, targeting a quantum of 100 shows by the end of CY2020. SonyLIV has honed its skills on acquiring live sports rights in order to attract paying customers, in addition to a few original shows.
Zee5 was launched last year and has, since then, rolled out around 25 original shows across genres. According to Zee Entertainment, the platform has crossed 50 million gross downloads since launch on the Play Store and had 56.3 million monthly active users in December 2018.
“ZEE5 is creating a catalogue of digital exclusive content including finite-format fiction shows, reality shows, original movies and short movies. ZEE5 is the only OTT platform creating content in six languages, which will enable it to become the go-to platform for consumers looking for differentiated content across languages,” a company spokesperson added.
What lends more proof to the observation is that Hotstar, the OTT app from the Star India stable, does not figure in the top grossing apps list, while it leads the top free apps list on the store in the entertainment category.
Like Zee5 and SonyLIV, Hotstar has a mix of free and premium content, with audiences having to pay for the latter. In other words, while people are downloading Hotstar the most, more people are paying for content on Netflix, ALTBalaji, Zee5, and SonyLIV.
Pantvaidya said it is important to give OTT audiences a reason to keep coming back, and more importantly, keep paying for the service.
Experts say that in the OTT category, it is no longer only about the share of space in the consumer’s phone memory, but about a share of the consumer’s wallet, and having a differentiated content library.
“First, we want to reach the 80-100 show mark. Then we intend to experiment with pricing. I think we’ve got the pricing right, but there can be innovations in how it is presented. For example, sachetisation of pricing could be an option, which allows people to pay for particular content within the platform,” Pantvaidya adds.