Imagine going back to the year 2010, when the entertainment industry was dominated by traditional set-top boxes like DishTV, TataSky, or Airtel DTH, which were essentially the norm then. If someone had told you that these popular devices would be entirely replaced by streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video within a decade, would you have believed them? It’s almost like a scene from a sci-fi movie – the idea of watching high-quality content directly through the internet seemed too futuristic to be possible. Yet, here we are, in 2023, where OTT platforms are reigning supreme and transforming how we consume entertainment.
In 2018, the Indian OTT market was valued at INR 2,150 crore, and it’s predicted to reach a staggering INR 58,121 crore by FY 2027. It goes without saying that the industry grew massively compared to its roots back in 2008 when Reliance Entertainment launched BIGFlix, the first dependent OTT platform in the country. Then, in 2010, Digivive introduced nexGTv, India’s first OTT mobile app that provided live TV and on-demand content. nexGTV broke new ground by live-streaming Indian Premier League matches on smartphones, and this paved the way for the growth of another OTT platform, Hotstar (now Disney+ Hotstar), which has become a household name in India, thanks in no small part to its streaming of Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches. On top of cricket, fans of other sports also made their way to Hotstar. While cricket fans could watch IPL on the app, Formula 1 fanatics could also use it to catch their favorite racers battling it out on Grand Prix weekends. So it goes without saying that these platforms added a new dimension to the Indian entertainment industry and provided viewers with a wide range of options.
While these streaming services may have slid into the ecosystem without a bang, they’ve certainly made their presence felt. In a short time, the Indian OTT industry has shaken up the entertainment business, significantly influencing viewer preferences and tastes.
One of the most noticeable changes we’ve seen is that viewers now embrace and enjoy content across all languages. From Korean sensations like Squid Game to Spanish hits like Money Heist or Indian films like Pushpa: The Rise (Telugu) and Kantara (Kannada), audiences are now open to exploring content from different cultures. It’s a testament to the power of the OTT platform and its ability to connect people across borders and cultures.
But this raises an interesting question – Why are OTT platforms shifting to streaming sports from their original plan of streaming movies and shows?
Well, the answer is simple – the world of sports, especially cricket, is as exciting as it gets!
IPL is a cricketing spectacle like no other. Since its inception in 2007, it has been the ultimate destination for cricket lovers. With millions of fans tuning in to catch the excitement, IPL emerged as the most popular cricket league in the world. And the digital world has only taken it to a whole new level. With Hotstar as the official digital streaming partner from 2018 to 2022, IPL’s viewership on digital platforms grew exponentially, making it the perfect opportunity for OTT platforms. In 2022, Hotstar set a record with a viewership of 26.7 crore within the first three weeks of the tournament, with a global live-streaming record of 1.27 crore concurrent viewers.
This level of success has naturally piqued the interest of other OTT platforms, with Viacom18’s Jio Cinema, backed by the business messiah Mukesh Ambani, acquiring the digital streaming rights for IPL from 2023 to 2027 for a whopping INR 23,758 crore. During the 2023 IPL season, Jio Cinema has already reported an incredible 147 crore views on the opening weekend of IPL 2023, surpassing the entire season’s viewership of TATA IPL on Disney+ Hotstar the previous year. Moreover, according to Media Partners Asia, JioCinema is on track to rake in a mind-boggling INR 24,000 – INR 25,000 crore in ad revenue during the upcoming IPL season. As for Star India, they’re projected to make a respectable INR 14,800 – INR 16,160 crore. JioCinema is expected to snag the top spot and score around INR 8,000 crore more in ad sales revenue than Star India.
The growth of the OTT industry in India has been nothing short of remarkable, and the shift to streaming sports will only fuel this growth even further. As we enter an era where viewers can watch their favorite sports anywhere, anytime, on any device, the opportunities for OTT platforms to capitalize on this trend are endless. With the rise of sports streaming, it’s not just the entertainment industry that’s being transformed – it’s also changing the way we consume and experience sports, making it more accessible than ever before. One thing is for sure: the future of entertainment and sports in India is digital, and the possibilities are truly limitless.