Video on Demand industry challenges in IndiaVideo on demand is not a full grown industry in India but falls under the purview of Media & Entertainment Industry. On demand video consumption by Indian consumers is dominated by YouTube with over 55 million unique users visiting YouTube per month. Also about two-thirds of the YouTube viewers in India are below the age of 35 years. Other popular video platforms are Vimeo and recently emerging Facebook. It is clear that India’s on demand video need is being served by these 2-3 major players offering service worldwide.

Though watching YouTube videos have become commonplace among young generation in India, the ‘daddy’ generation is yet to awaken to the luxury of convenience viewing. Families glued to the idiot box during prime time and fighting to grab remote control is usual picture in every Indian home. Television remains the most popular entertainment avenue for not only rural but also urban households. India is a very large TV market. As per the ‘TAM Annual Universe Update – 2014‘, India now has over 277 million individuals (out of 312 million) with television sets, of which over 145 million have access to Cable TV or Satellite TV, including 78 million households which are DTH subscribers. But largely TV viewership in India is restricted to serials, shows broadcasted by channel owners giving no option on content & time preference.

In North America and Europe, there is a steady move away from appointment viewing to convenience viewing leading to growth of Video on Demand. VOD in developed markets has grown to the scale of cable and satellite businesses with the leaders such as Netflix becoming multi-billion Dollar companies in a relatively short period of times. The growth in Video on Demand in developed markets has been on the back of robust and economical broadband networks enabling consumers to stream content seamlessly. India, however, remains an untapped VOD opportunity with no real alternative to linear TV for home entertainment.

In India, several players have attempted to offer Video on Demand services but have failed to deliver a satisfying customer experience: Near VOD services by DTH operators and online VOD service providers are limited in their service offering due to limited choice of content and no control on start time and playback. Netflix like models of VOD on internet streaming are limited by lack of availability of high speed broadband connections. The unsatisfactory customer experience including buffering and pixelation has affected the adoption of these video on demand services.

Typical challenges faced by video on demand industry in India are as follows:

  • Poor quality: A broadband connection in an area is shared between various subscribers. This means the quality of experience for a given user varies based upon who is doing what with their internet connection. The lack of dedicated bandwidth causes erratic user experience resulting in buffering, pixelation and waiting. Penetration and the way broadband is serviced ( Ethernet, cable modem, wifi dongles, WAN cards, etc. ) cause the experience to be different every time based on available resources, load factors and peak and off-peak performance differences.
  • Cost of ownership: Bandwidth cost to the consumer for video and media consumption over broadband is extremely high. As most broadband plans in India are data usage based, this serves as a hindrance for video consumption on broadband. Also these online video on demand service providers charge periodic membership which is an additional cost.
  • Skewed towards younger age group: 75% internet users in India are under the age of 35. Also about two-thirds of the YouTube viewers in India are below the age of 35 years. Therefore elderly age group which is not so tech savvy is yet to enjoy the convenience video on demand offers.
  • Limited Reach: Internet penetration in India is merely 20%. Surely video on demand as a service has a long way to go before it serves 80% untapped population in India.

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