India Going Over the Top: Startup Streaming

As video streaming becomes popular in India, not only are big players like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hotstar investing in it, so also are a host of startups, reports Times of India. The broadcasting and technology business's terminology for it is over-the-top (OTT) digital content delivery of audio and video content over the internet without a multiple-system operator (like a cable or DTH operator) controlling or distributing the content. Consulting firm Frost and Sullivan estimates there are 66 million unique video viewers in India, and 1.3 million OTT paid video subscribers.That's a big market. Startup analytics firm Tracxn estimates there are at least 40 new ventures in the space, and around $30 million have been invested by venture capital firms into some of them.

Many focus on short videos. It is easy now to showcase such videos under categories like comedy that have cat videos or baby videos, or cars & bikes or style & beauty tips.Content is sourced from popular creators like The Viral Fever (TVF), Culture Machine and AIB, and funny YouTube stars and comedians like Radhika Vaz. Some apps, like Dwingloo and Spuul, show mainly Bollywood and regional movies. Mumbai-based Dekkho provides short videos of 2 to 45 minutes, from 22 content providers. Founder Vinay Pillai, whose experience includes working for Drama Fever, a video streaming website for Korean shows, in New York, has raised $2 million from angel investors. The platform is ad supported. Pillai says subscriptions may work for long form content, but for ad support, "we need to keep it short."

Veqta is an OTT platform for live sports content. It launched a free beta app last August, and will formally launch as a pure subscription platform in March. It has raised $500,000 from venture capital firm Chatsworth Management and sports management company ITW Consulting. Founder Varun Mathur says live content has the advantage that there are not enough rights available in the market for sports. "We get the feed from partners like ATP and WTA. So it all boils down to who gets the rights first. Also, while movies and music can be sold on a non-exclusive basis, sports can be sold only exclusively ," he says. Veqta is working on a virtual reality (VR) experience for some of its live content.

PressPlay also focuses on short videos, and among its most watched videos are one on why we celebrate Diwali, a TED talk on the art of seduction, and Tarla Dalal on making kala jamun. Started in 2013 by former Zomato employees George Abraham and Anand Sinha, the venture has received backing from Sequoia Capital. PressPlay has some 60 partners including travel ones like Ola Shuttle, SRS Travels, and Indian Railways, and together they provide around 3,000 hotspots across India. Travellers can connect their smartphones to the hotspot and stream videos. The Viral Fever too has come up with its own OTT mobile app called TVFPlay after it raised $10 million from Tiger Global. Delhi-based online video marketing and analytics firm Vidooly , which tracks the data of around 200 media and multi-channel networks, says OTT picked up after 2015, when traditional media came into the space. "But this space requires huge capital," says founder Subrat Kar.

Capital is required for paying licensing fees, contracting fees and royalties to content providers, for marketing to acquire customers, and because of competition from traditional media. Partly because of this, the space has seen several failures already. Live entertainment network #fame, which had raised almost $13 million, the most by any startup in this segment, shut down its services late last year. It was a free platform and charged customers only for products on the site, like gifts and stickers. "Subscription is the way forward," believes Mathur of Veqta. He plans to charge customers Rs 50 a month initially. Dekkho is betting on digital ad spends. "These spends are booming. In 2011, the FMCG digital ad budget was less than 2%. Now it's more than 20%," says Dekkho's cofounder Tanay Desai.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

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