March 2018



Over the top (OTT) is distribution of Video, audio & other media services, streamed via the internet, directly to consumers. OTT bypasses the conventional distribution systems like Cable TV, DTH, HITS as well as terrestrial TV broadcasts.

In India, OTT viewing on mobile accounts for more than 90% of watchtime versus other platforms such as desktop, according to data shared by Hotstar's parent company - Novi Digital Entertainment.

OTT has been rapidly gaining popularity worldwide. In India OTT has really taken off after JIO dropped mobile data rates to affordable levels, and the price of smart phones fell.

According to a report released by Counterpoint Research in December 2017, the video OTT market is currently valued at $280 million (₹ 1,820 Crores).


Currently in its initial growth phase, OTT viewership in India is growing rapidly at 35% annually. Star India had launched Hotstar in February 2015, right before the ICC Cricket World Cup.

Every major broadcaster has established its own OTT platform.

Table-1 summarises OTT viewers of some of India's largest OTT platforms.

Table 1: Major Indian OTT Platforms
Hotstar Star India 75 Million
Voot Viacom18 22 Million
Amazon Prime Video Amazon 11 Million
Sony Liv Sony 5 Million
Netflix Netflix 5 Million


Despite the large viewer numbers, currently there is no money in OTT. Indian viewers have steadfastly refused to pay for OTT content. Even on Hotstar, less than 10% of its viewers pay for premium content. 90% prefer to watch only what is free.


In India, Hotstar charges ₹ 199 per month for its premium service. It has slashed these rates to ₹ 1,200 annually or ₹ 894 for 6 months or ₹ 498 for 3 months.

Sony Liv's premium offering is priced at ₹ 120 for 3 months.

Viacom18's Voot is free.

90% Of Indian OTT Viewers Consume Free Content Only

Netflix India has 3 plans - basic, standard & premium priced ₹ 500, ₹ 650 & ₹ 800 per month.

Amazon Prime Video comes free with annual Prime membership of ₹ 999.


Initially, Indian viewers preferred to watch for very short durations, less than 5 to 10 minutes per session. This was probably due to the very high cost of mobile data. At that time, most OTT platforms created content with each episode typically limited to 5 minutes duration.

That has changed significantly, with data mobile prices driven down by JIO.

Data from Hotstar reveals that currently videos longer than 20 minutes in duration account for 96% of watchtime on Hotstar. "From watching short clips on the web, viewers have developed an appetite for long-format premium content," according to Ajit Mohan, CEO, Hotstar.

96% Of Hotstar Views Are For More Than 20 Minutes


Mohan added that while cricket still remains the most-followed sports across medium, other sports is also watched, particularly by people living in small towns. "The platform has eased constraints of distribution of other sports such as badminton, football, kabaddi, etc. In fact, such is the demand for live sports content that users are ready to pay for it," he claims.

Media analysts point out that live sports content has played a crucial role in driving user base of Hotstar besides attracting advertising revenue.

Still less than 10% of Hotstar's viewers opt to pay and watch premium content. Desperate to increased paid views for its IPL series in April, Hotstar has slashed its long-term subscription rates by upto 50%.

OTT Prime Time Coincides With TV Prime Time !


Initially, OTT was expected to supplement TV viewing, as during commuting. However, recent studies show that even in India, particularly the youth are replacing TV viewing with OTT viewing. One-third of all Hotstar's entertainment viewers watch their shows primarily on the platform instead of TV.

Reinforcing this is the fact that according to Hotstar, viewership on the platform peaks between 9 and 10 pm thus indicating that prime-time viewing is now also on mobile besides TV.

So are OTT viewers shifting their priorities from a medium on-the-go, to a replacement for TV, even inside their homes?

Is OTT Replacing TV Viewing Inside Homes?


Besides broadcasters, large MSOs and DTH platforms have launched their own OTT platforms. They aim to engage their customers & offer them an extended service on the consumer's mobile phones.

Broadcasters have refused to provide rights for their TV content to be re-transmitted on OTT. This has been an impediment for MSOs' OTT services. However, OTT platforms can curate the huge amount of content available for free on the internet and present it on their OTT platforms in an easily consumable format.

OTT vendors currently offer customised OTT platforms not only to MSOs but also LCOs, in regional languages, for as low as ₹ 1.5 lakhs per annum.

Clearly, OTT will grow very rapidly in the next 5 years, and anyone serious about staying in business, will have to adopt OTT as part of his business portfolio. n