Video On Demand In India Vs VoD AbroadI was at a local coffee shop this weekend, sipping on my latte, when I looked at the huge TV screen mounted atop playing the advertisement of Video on Demand (VoD) service provided by a big brand in India. I began to wonder about the Video on Demand services offered in India. Yes, that’s how exciting my weekend was!

Though Video on Demand service in India is gradually catching up with the viewers and the market growth seems to be promising throughout the country, it is yet to catch up with the popularity of global giants like iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO , BBC iPlayer, Vevo, Vimeo, to name a few ,and stand the competition against them. Having said that, I, however, need to ask if it’s fair to compare the Video on Demand (VoD) services of our local giants with the global giants?

The following factors will reiterate the comparison between VoD in India and VoD abroad:

Experience: The VoD concept is not new. The first commercial VoD service was launched in Hong Kong in the early 1990s. In the United States, Oceanic Time Warner Cable was the first to offer it in beginning in 2000. In 1998, Kingston Communication was the first UK Company to launch a fully commercial VOD service. In Russia, the VoD services were launched in 2008 whereas in India, the first VoD service was launched in 2012. The point is, global brands definitely have one major advantage to them over our local brands, which is experience. Indian VoD is still in primitive stage and still needs to seep into a wider market or wider audience.
Global players already have the advantage of experience which they leverage to their full potential, which is not the case with local players. To compete with these strong rivals the local brands will not only have to gain huge experience but also need to have some strong strategy in place to create their presence in the market, most likely through a painful process of heavy advertising and other PR skills.

Technology and Infrastructure: No doubt technology in India is improving day by day but it is still far away from the technology available abroad. Video on Demand (VoD) is an interactive system, which requires high end technology and network since the content is first put into a digital format before it being delivered instantly to the consumers. But, it also needs to be delivered without too much buffering and pixelation, and there in comes the need to have a high speed internet or broadband connection or WiFi which is still evolving in India as compared to US or Europe, where WiFi is common place.
However, Qwik Entertainment, has overcome this disadvantage by delivering the content through a cable, which has dominated the TV market in India since the early nineties. The cable service and VoD through cable is definitely not new to the markets abroad. Video on Demand is an emerging technology; the fees associated with VoD are still high and may not be available for those with slower connections. VoD evolves as the technology evolves which is at a slower rate as compared to abroad.

Market: Consumer awareness about new products, services and brands is growing in India, but at a much slower rate as compared to the market aboard, say, maybe in US or Europe. This holds true even for the Video on Demand (VoD) platform in India. The concept of Video on Demand (VoD) is not completely new per se in Indian market but relatively new as compared to the global market. This is evident since Indian consumers are aware and use on – demand platforms like YouTube, Amazon, Vimeo etc and also with the introduction of digital distribution platforms like direct-to-home (DTH) and Mobile TV, etc. In other words, Video on Demand is fragmented in India. VoD in India is targeted more toward middle class and upper-middle class consumers, which is not the case in other countries. However, as the on demand process is streamlined, video on demand will become more and more accessible to the general public in India.

Subscription models offered: VoD services offered by our local brands and global brands, we need to understand the how VoD services are categorized.

  • Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD): Viewers or consumers are charged a monthly fee that allows them to have access to the digital content of their choice. In India, we only have SVOD services offered by players like Airtel, TataSky, Qwik Entertainment etc. Global players include Netflix, Lovefilm.
  • Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD): Viewers or Consumers pay for individual video on demand program. It’s pay per view. This service is not yet offered by our local brands. Global brands include Vudu, iTunes.
  • Advert-supported video on demand (AVOD): Viewers are allowed to watch content for free; however they must watch advertisements at various points throughout the film. A portion of the ad revenue is then returned to the content provider. Global players include YouTube, Hulu(US).

In order for Video on Demand services to grow in India, our brands needs to broaden their horizons by including TVOD and AVOD services and by creating awareness among the consumers. That’s when a fair comparison with the global giants will come into the picture. It may take a while but hopefully, we will see India, on the global map of the digital world of Video viewing. Stay Tuned.