Here’s how the Indian consumer is drifting away from the idiot box, but is still a couch potato

With the convenience of smartphones and the affordability of data, many of us might not remember the last time we sat through a television programme for more than an hour. Compare it with the time we spent using our smartphones for video, movies, music, and practically everything on the name of entertainment, and we would lose count. Aping the West in terms of relying on the online world for daily dose of entertainment, we, Indians, are now pacing ahead in the race with our far reaching demands for data and content that is compelling service providers to think of innovative ways to lure the couch potato in us, while maintaining profitability.

It began with the roll out of 4G. Then followed  Reliance Jio 4G and the resulting debut of on-demand video service providers such as Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix. Turns out, this is the best time to ditch the traditional remote control. You might even consider an assistant-powered service such as Alexa. It was in 2003 that the first DTH service was launched in India. The first on-demand video service Hotstar debuted in 2015. In just a short span of two years, online video services have fast garnered consumer attention. As a result, we not only have indigenous content producers, but now foreign publishers are also taking keen interest in India. Here’s what is bringing in the change.

Zero tolerance for piracy

Watching movies or content without paying a penny is no foreign concept for Indians. Before you start sending brickbats in response, if you recall, when cable television had just made its debut in India not many in your own locality or neighborhood owned a television set, and houses which did have a television set along with the cable connection became the go-to place every evening. Cut to 2017, call it the increase in spending capacity or the sheer drop in pricing, most Indians own their personal smartphones, some even their own television sets. But in this case, with need the greed has increased too. Thanks to fast and affordable internet, everyone has become a publisher of content on their own, leading to the growing menace of piracy.

Indian as well as foreign entertainment has been repeatedly a target of piracy, leading to huge losses. Even before a movie is released, it’s ‘uncut’ version makes to the web and then there’s no way to stop the viral downloads. However, the industry has now started tackling the issue with a heavy hand by ensuring such instances are reduced.

Culturing Indians

Amidst the struggle to cap piracy, video streaming services play an important role than ever before. With services including Amazon, Netflix, Voot, Hooq, Hotstar, and the more recent JioCinema and JioTV, a shift in the pattern and method of consuming content has been witnessed. From being an all-premium model, these services now offer a mix of free and paid content, with some replicating rental model from the past.

In addition to inculcating the habit of preferring paid content, the on-demand video platforms are also credited with offering quality content at a time when traditional cable TV content reached a stagnation point with daily soap operas. RELATED: India loves binge watching the most, and Netflix is taking note

Value for money

On-demand video services cost you as low as Rs 89 for a quarter, there’s liberty in what you watch, when you watch, and on how many devices. The plans are shareable so no one feels left out and with parental controls, you don’t need to tell kids to switch off television at a specific time. In addition to that, there’s obviously exposure to global quality content.

Although there is a lot of flexibility with these services, this is no way an indication of the traditional television taking a backseat. Yes, the kind of content has changed, but the larger screen experience can still be replicated with newer hardware such as Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire Stick. On the other hand, content producers are now tying up with these video services to provide the millennials with the kind of content they prefer – shorter in length, newer in genre, and affordable at the same time.  ALSO READ: Netflix could soon let you choose different endings for your favorite TV shows

Jio impact

With the advent of Jio’s affordable data plans, India’s image of being a data-hungry nation is now globally acknowledged phenomenon. The plans go as low as Rs 149 per month. Adding to the binge-watching culture, Jio recently launched its JioPhone, which is a feature phone costing effectively Rs 0 and works pretty much like any other media streaming device to let you stream content to any television screen. RELATED: Reliance JioPhone: How to connect the phone to any TV to stream content

While most of the entertainment content including music, movies, and TV shows has migrated to the online sphere, some of the content such as live broadcasts of sporting events and exclusive airing right after global telecast is now charged at a premium, but viewers don’t seem to mind. Take for instance the JioTV app which gives you live TV experience at a nominal fee. You not only get to access over a 100 channels, including HD channels, but given the free calls and data bundled with the whole package, the deal is lucrative for consumers. Facilitated by 4G network, improved access to and decreased cost of digital content, Indians have all the more reasons to make the switch to online consumption of content. ALSO READ: 10 emerging trends from India’s online video consumption boom

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