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OTT overload in India: One pie; many forking it:

So, yet another OTT platform launches in India – Amazon PrimeVideo. From top of mind recall, there is:

  • HotStar
  • VOOT
  • Reliance Jio
  • Netflix
  • Spuul
  • ALT Digital
  • YuppTV
  • SonyLIV

Some of these platforms might soon shut shop, I’d imagine, given they are all digging into the same pie – India’s emerging digital generation.

I’d also wager, it’ll come down to a square off between Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, with other local players out of the game, or operating under the big three supervision. Here’s why:

The DIGITAL EAST INDIA COMPANY:

Why did the British invade India? That’s an easy one. More importantly how and why did they succeed? It can be said due to lack of foresight by the local rulers and the invaders taking advantage of in-fighting in the country, at that time. Now, fast forward to the 21st Century and the rich “natural resources” that are up for grabs are ‘eyeballs’ and micro-payments in the form of OTT subscriptions by the world’s largest population, give or take a few million.

Conquest and acquisition will be easy for the DEIC. The homegrown platforms will keep dishing out the same fare, not realizing that the Metro – Rural gap will be closing up within this decade. Digital savvy-ness from using technology might just have a knock-on effect of consumers demanding more – in the form of superior content as well as tech on par with their counterparts in first world countries.

India’s recent thrust into turning the economy from paper to plastic and the Digital India initiative was inevitable. Change is already happening, literally, overnight.

Let’s face it: India is not known for it’s ability to pioneer, at least not in the Media and electronics Industry. It plays the wait-and-watch and the how-soon-ROI? game. Any temptation to compare it with China would result in face palms. China copies but then manages to get the original creators to see sense in importing back, finished goods from China. In electronics, especially consumer electronics, China holds it’s own.

In the film and Media industry, Hollywood already has it’s own version of the HEIC (Hollywood East India Co.) Almost any name worthy Hollywood feature production has it’s VFX work done in India. Digital farming and mining a different kind of natural resource than in the 18th century.

Yet, home grown productions lament the state of VFX as the reason for box office flops.

If the irony isn’t clear, Let’s make it:

  • A culture of Pioneer-ism needs to be cultivated in India’s CEO and CXOs.
  • For “Make in India” to succeed, India needs to produce quality content fit for a world stage. (I have a dog in this fight)

It’s easy to rant on… but the title of this essay isn’t click bait. Realizing ROI would be the keyphrase leading to CXO clicks, it’s fair to offer some insight that might lead to profitability and survival of their OTT Platform.

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How India’s OTT platforms can create ROI with Cinematic VR:

I spoke to at least 75% of CXO level employees of the platforms mentioned at the start of this page about incorporating some form of VR into their OTT platforms. Every one of them came back with a version of “it’s too early” in response.

  1. The HBO VR effect:

Meanwhile, off the bat, NetFlix, HULU and even Amazon Prime Video (intelligence based on a job advert) have implemented a flavor of VR for their platform. But, wait. There is a dire shortage of Cinematic VR content. What’s the point of creating a VR version of the Netflix and Hulu app?

Answer: Unconventional Foresight.

Long answer: Would you as a consumer, rather watch the opening episode of West World on a 5 inch mobile display just because you’re OOH? (out of home) One has to look at what’s happening at airports and waiting lounges around the world today – the digital generation slipping their phones into GearVRs and other Chinese made (point!) VR headsets and thus enjoying the joy of a private theater, complete with large screen and surround sound while they are in public. That’s how you enjoy West World at your own Home Box Office private cinema. The same goes for epic Sword-and-Sandal Indian feature films.

Watch Baahubali on a 6 inch mobile display or on your own portable IMAX like screen? Pitch that question in a survey in India today.

The first Indian OTT platform to offer a VR like setting to view films within their app – wins more subscribers. Today’s generation being targeted, will gravitate to forward thinking brands. They will evolve from the “we are like that, only” generation the current CXOs come from.

2) OTT in VR is backwards compatible:

In two ways:

A) There’s nothing stopping you from watching ALL EXISTING Netflix content on a 100 inch screen, once you slip your phone into a GearVR or mobile VR headset and fire up the Netflix VR app.

B) Ditto for HULU

and…this is interesting:

C) I’d urge stakeholders and decision makers in the OTT business to spend the next two minutes looking at the video clip above. Cinematic VR is about future proofing content. While Netflix and Hulu wait for quality Cinematic VR (360 video) content to fill their libraries, they also know that when shot in VR, the video can be seen on legacy OTT platforms. The question remains: Would subscribers rather watch their favorite extreme sporting event or blockbuster movie on a 5 inch cell phone display or on a large screen VR headset. Giving them that choice is what Netflix and Hulu and HBO have done.

Imax – the very name synonymous with Large screen entertainment is thinking ahead with their foray into Imax VR cinemas and Imax VR cameras, as has Sony Entertainment with their tie-up to produce Cinematic VR films and VR for PR content linked to their tent-pole feature projects.

To bring this point home: Currently, Baahubali the blockbuster homegrown production is said to have invested upward of USD 4million in creating the Sword of Baahubali experience and the behind the scenes Cinematic VR short of the same name.

Is there one Indian OTT platform provider whose app is capable of displaying the behind the scenes “VR for PR” piece to their subscribers? The answer is a resounding No. Meanwhile Hulu is rumored to soon premiere the VR short “IPhilip” on the HuluVR platform. The race is on – India’s OTT platforms can steer ahead from playing catch-up TV (pun intended) to being in the lead.

Read part one: 3 Reasons why Indian OTT players will launch Cinematic VR platforms on my Linkedin Pulse page.