OTT platforms stand for Over the Top platforms. With the diverse taste and preferences of people, OTT platforms have become popular these days. Those days are gone when people would rely on the television to broadcast their favourite show. People nowadays subscribe to OTT platforms. Users select the genre they like and start watching the content of their choice. The covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have forced people to stay at home. With colleges, offices, and theatres shut down; people rely completely on the OTT platforms for entertainment.
What is an OTT Platform
OTT platforms stream audio and video services through the internet. Many of the OTT platforms offer some content for free and charge some content. The user has to buy a subscription to the charged content to be able view it. Subscription is usually charged for content unique to the platform which is not available on the other platforms.
The OTT platforms are technically advance and use artificial intelligence to provide a better experience to the user. Using artificial intelligence, the content which the user is likely to watch is shown on the basis of the previous content viewed by the user. This gives the user an advantage of personalized suggestions based on the history of content they like and are interested in.
The beginning of OTT Platforms
In India, Netflix marked the beginning in the growth of the OTT platforms. The Viral Fever, popularly known as TVF, is the first platform to create original content in India. TVF, with the aim to reach a young audience, searched for a platform to stream its content. In 2010, Netflix was expanding its service worldwide and fulfilled the need of original content creators like TVF. Before Netflix, there were several other OTT platforms like SonyLiv and BigFlix. Afterward, Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video entered the OTT world, which significantly changed the way people consume content.
History of OTT Platforms in India
OTT platforms started in India with BigFlix. Launched by Reliance Entertainment in 2008, BigFlix became India's first OTT platform. Eventually, OTT started thriving in India in 2013 after the launch of Zee TV and Sony Liv. Disney Hotstar came into the OTT world in 2015. Viewers of Disney Hotstar are increasing since its launch. Today, it has become one of the most-watched OTT platforms. Later, Netflix began providing its service in India from the beginning of 2016 and competing with the platforms like Amazon-Prime Video and Disney+Hotstar.
How to access OTT Platforms
The user needs a strong internet connection and a device connected to OTT for using any OTT platform. These devices may include:
The premier content is only available for the customers with the premier subscription. The subscription comes with a fee which the user must pay to avail of the premier content.
Effect of Netflix on the OTT industry
We can closely associate the OTT platforms with the Netflix. It is the platform which marked beginning of the establishment of the OTT industry. Netflix is one of the many OTT platforms that started the OTT industry. Netflix since has been dominating the OTT world. It has done so by evaluating the data of the users to provide better service. Netflix is expanding with its unique service. It is serving content to users according to their needs. Eventually, the television industry has seen a downfall, and the cable operators have changed their businesses' way.
Netflix began as a streaming platform with the aim to serve the content to the user on their computers. It made users access the content on their smartphones, tablets, and gaming devices. People could now watch the content as many times as they wish to. Moreover, the content was provided in the comfort of their home.
Eventually, Netflix created a loyal fan base by creating their original content. Hence it took the challenge and risk of making series. Later, it started uploading the whole season at once, which gave rise to the binge-watching trend. Netflix provided users with all the episodes at once, unlike the TVs and cables which streamed an episode daily or weekly.
Netflix has started a healthy competition among the OTT platforms, which benefited users. Now, the user can access quality content, and the choice of the content creators is entirely on the basis of talent.
How OTT Platforms flourished in pandemic
Before the covid-19 pandemic, conventional TVs and cables were more popular. With the lockdown and restrictions on social gatherings, TV shows and theatres came to a standstill. To overcome the boredom in the lockdown and divert attention from negative thoughts, people found different ways to keep themselves happy. Some explored exercising while others just turned to the content on the internet for entertainment. Thus, the loyal customers of the TV industry shifted to more reliable ways for their entertainment. Many were under the peer pressure of watching the content their friends posted on social media, revamped the conventional content delivering structure. Eventually leading to the acceptance of the OTT platforms. Thus, new OTT platforms came into existence, and the industry grew drastically.
Emerging Regional OTT Platforms
Apart from the popular OTT platforms, many regional OTT platforms are also emerging these days. Regional OTT platforms have helped to connect a large section of people to quality content. It has also given variety to the content with the taste of the particular language. Some popular languages with regional OTT platforms in India include Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, and many others. Hence people who are in search of good content may explore other regional OTT platforms.
Effect of OTT Platforms on the Theatres
Demand for movies is constantly increasing, and the domain of movies is widening with the increasing demand. There is much content available for people to watch. Over the years, theatres have contributed significantly to the entertainment industry. With the rise in streaming apps and accessible internet, the introduction of OTT has initiated tough competition. OTTs and theatres are trying to serve users with quality content at affordable prices.
Movie theatres and OTT platforms both have their pros and cons. OTT platforms have proved to be more convenient and flexible. However, movie theatres give a unique experience of movie watching. Both OTT platforms and movie theatres seem promising for the future, but OTT platforms have gained added advantage due to the covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, OTT platforms have benefitted the young generation, which is craving for relatable and original content.
The Increasing OTT craze has posed a major challenge for the theatres. Although theatres are an entirely unique way of watching movies, they now face tougher competition. The lifestyles of people are changing, which has increased the number of people who can buy a subscription, rather than waiting for the tickets and going to the theatres people now prefer paying and consuming content from their home. Additionally, the rise in OTT platforms and streaming apps has challenged these platforms to present better content.
The rise in the number of options has largely benefitted users. Theatres are finding ways to attract more audiences by providing a comfortable environment. Also, OTT platforms are buying rights on digital content to stream it. The increase in user expectations has led to an increase in the cost that the platforms have to balance along with production costs. Now, OTT platforms have to cater to the overall cost. The rising competition has brought a change by giving talent and quality the highest priority.
The downfall of Television Viewership
Televisions have been an important part of our childhood. Be it cartoon shows or the popular childhood movies we still remember, we have consumed most content on television. However, today, the reduced cost of the internet has increased its accessibility. Internet service is not only confined to the urban parts of India but also covers rural India. Consequently, nowadays, viewers generally prefer watching content on OTT platforms as they provide a wide variety of options for viewers. Additionally, most television shows have fixed time and advertisements, which doesn't go hand in hand with the current lifestyle of people. Hence the television viewership has suffered.
Advantages of OTT Platforms
1. Reduction in the cost -
Quality content is available to everyone holding a subscription and a strong internet connection. OTT platforms and their increasing competition is the reason for the low-cost content we consume today.
2. Improved sound and video quality -
The tough competition with the increase in the number of OTT platforms has made the improved sound and video quality.
3. Instant access -
Users can instantly access any content they wish to and whenever they want to. Additionally, it also provides the benefit of watching content as many times as the user. People do not need to stand in long queues to take a ticket for the show.
4. Multi-platform service -
Multi-platform service provides people to binge-watch the content anytime, from anywhere, and using any platform. From the desktop, laptop to smartphones, one can watch content according to their convenience.
5. Original Content -
With the subscription, users have access to the original content. People can control the OTT platform account on their own. Additionally, they can manage other family members on a single account by separating the content of each member.
Disadvantages of OTT Platforms
1. Necessary internet connection -
The content can be accessed only in online mode. Hence internet connection availability is one of the major drawbacks of the OTT platforms.
2. The connection can affect the quality of the content -
Even after paying for the subscription, which is a fee charged for the content and its quality. The internet bandwidth largely governs quality. A poor connection will give poor video quality despite the premium subscription.
3. Threat to Security -
Despite the many advantages of online platforms, these are not always safe to use. Many platforms may steal user's confidential information as not all the platforms are monitored by the authorities. Although some platforms take security seriously and abide by the laws, many require changes in their policies.
4. No Censorship -
As the government does not regulate the OTT platforms, these are completely independent. Thus, there is no age restriction, and anyone can watch the content.
5. Time wastage -
Users tend to spend a lot of time on the OTT platforms. Binge-watching never ends, one after the other, and the cycle continues. OTT platforms have made people addicted to entertainment, which is so easily available that they forget their important tasks.
What OTT Platforms have Offered Us
OTT platforms have given us the most convenient source of our entertainment in the digital world. It has brought to us the technology that promises to offer us the content of our choice without hassles. Moreover, it has also supported the television industry by streaming the shows on its platforms. Technological developments like cloud-based storage and data management have accelerated the growth of the OTT platforms by providing the means to operate them effectively.
With the rise in internet usage and its easy accessibility, more people can watch quality content using OTT platforms. Before the covid-19 pandemic, it was limited to the cities, but now the service has been widely spread across India. Thus, even the users who live in remote places could access the content provided they have internet access and a subscription.
Variety of Content
OTT platforms have widened the content. Unlike conventional TVs, it also broadcasts stand-up comedy, web series, and short films. OTT platforms have motivated new content creators, innovative producers, and many others to pursue a career in quality content creation.
The diversity and quality of OTT platforms are what keeps its users hooked to the content. OTT platforms have shaped the perspectives of people with their creative content. Subsequently, it has made people think about new ideas and create new projects. Through their content, OTT platforms have created an impact on the people who consume their content. The future of the OTT platform seems promising, and people can rely on it for convenient consumption of the content.