As smartphone penetration continues to increase and data gets cheaper, it is clear that consumption of video will continue to grow. The increase in data consumption also means that consumers will look for more options to stream content and that brings us to Over the top (OTT) app. OTT is a media distribution practice that allows a streaming content provider to sell audio, video or any other media content directly to consumers with the help of internet.
The rise of OTT platforms has also led to a large number of users to give up their cable subscription and rely entirely on these OTT platforms for all of their media consumption. In India, the OTT apps were made famous by IPL (Indian Premier League) which was available to stream for free on Hotstar, the online streaming platform owned by Star India. Hotstar has since become the leader in India’s OTT market, but it has also seen competition from global brands like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and local players like Jio TV, Voot, Yupp TV among others.
While success of any app depends on its design and stability, that of OTT streaming platforms depends on content. Content is the king and it alone can make or break a platform as seen from Apple’s little relevance in this space. So if you are planning to get started with OTT platforms, here are the top applications to consider:
Hotstar serves as the gateway for millions of digitally savvy Indians to livestream cricket actions like IPL and other games. It also streams all major sporting events be it tennis or Formula 1. Apart from sports, it also has exclusive rights to original programming from HBO or NBC. If you are a Game of Thrones fan then you know Hotstar is the platform you must subscribe to watch the epic show within moments of its release in the US. Hotstar is a freemium app and it offers some content on its platform for free, but there are also contents available for premium only subscribers. The service costs Rs 199 per month and there is also an annual subscription available at just Rs 1,200, which is 49 percent lower than its regular price.
Netflix is the global leader in this space and also the pioneer here. It has successfully produced critically acclaimed shows and has also ventured into making movies with big names like Will Smith. Netflix is a publicly traded company and has made the idea of OTT apps so huge that it currently has a market cap of $120 billion. Netflix has been observing the easy availability of data services in India and has been localizing content lately. It now offers local shows, movies and even original shows developed with King Khan or Shah Rukh Khan. However, Netflix is quite expensive with its basic plan priced at Rs 500 per month and premium tier costing Rs 800 per month.
While Hotstar, Netflix and other are standalone offerings, Amazon Prime Video is a free service that comes bundled with the Prime shipping option on the e-commerce platform. With Prime Video, Amazon is also playing the same content card of local content bundled with exclusive content. If you grew up watching Top Gear as a kid then Prime Video will interest since it is the new home to Grand Tour featuring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Amazon Prime Video is an annual subscription platform and is available at Rs 999 per year. Even if you don't watch the content, you will get one-day free delivery on your Amazon orders.
ZEE5 is the newest entrant into this space and it has the backing of Zee Entertainment Enterprise Limited (ZEEL). The service is again a freemium platform that offers regional content, live TV, on-demand movies and TV shows. The app is available as a free to use service for the first month and will then also offer an option to pay for premium content. Some of the major features of the app is content across 12 languages including English, Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, Bhojpuri, Gujarati and Punjabi. It is also available across multiple platforms where it is smartphone or tablet or smart TV.
Yes, SonyLIV is the app from the most reputed brand in the broadcast business - Sony Pictures Networks. SonyLIV is the one-stop shop for all Sony TV channels including SET, SET MAX, SAB TV, Sony SIX, Sony PIX, AXN, Sony ESPN, Sony MIX and TEN Sports Network channels like TEN 1, TEN 2, TEN 3, TEN Golf HD and TEN 1 HD. As names reveal, the service offers standard apps and HD quality streaming as well. Subscription starts at Rs 49 per month, but there is also an option for quarterly subscription at Rs 120 and annual subscription at Rs 399.
Voot is the platform from Viacom18 Digital Media and it offers content across channels like Colors Hindi, MTV, Nickelodeon, Viacom18 Motion Pictures, Colors Infinity, Colors Kannada, Colors Marathi, Colors Bangla and Colors Gujarati. As evident, Voot also plays the regional content card really well and with more users from Tier II and Tier III cities experiencing internet for the first time, it is important to offer the content they are accustomed to. It claims to have access to 40,000 hours of content including big TV names like Bigg Boss, blockbuster Bollywood movies and cartoon shows as well.
Yupp TV is another such video streaming platform with focus on livestreaming TV channels. It has access to over 200 Live Indian TV channels with 7-days of catch-up TV. It is often considered to be the go to application for those looking to stream local TV channels and is especially helpful if you have given up on your cable subscription.
If Jio TV is for Jio users, then Airtel TV is for Airtel subscribers. The app works on same underlying principles like that of Jio and it also offers a year's subscription to Amazon Prime through the Airtel TV app. Currently it offers 4 channels including EROS NOW as a destination for thousands of Bollywood movies, HOOQ for Hollywood and TV series from around the world, Sony LIV for access to Sony network and YouTube for free streaming of handpicked videos and playlists from YouTube.
If your network provider is Vodafone, then Vodafone Play is the streaming platform for you. The service offers live TV subscription, movies, music and videos exclusively for Vodafone customers. It also offers access to original shows like Bose: Dead or Alive, Big Bang Theory, Gotham, Friends to name a few.