The Most Successful OTT Brands of the Decade

27 Dec,2019

 

This is the third in a series of six decade-ender lists in this column by Shailesh Kapoor. The previous lists:

The most-defining Hindi TV shows of the decade

The most-defining Hindi films of the decade

 

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

The OTT category in India saw a major boost in the latter half of the decade, especially 2017 onwards. From a handful of originals and OTT platforms that you could count in single digits, the category took off with the arrival of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in India. In 2019, more than 100 original OTT shows launched in Hindi language alone. Add regional content, sports, movies, animation etc. to it, and you know that the end of the decade belonged to OTT.

Ranking “successful” brands in an emerging category can be tricky. This list is based on impact created in the Indian market, both from a content and a marketing perspective. Social media brands have not been considered, and special mentions are due to regional players like Hoichoi, and niche players like FilmCompanion and Ullu, for managing to find a strong need gap and catering to it.

 

5. ALT Balaji

Balaji’s entry into OTT category in 2017 made it one of the earlier entrants. It took ALT Balaji some time to get going, and it can be argued that the launch of the more premium services like Netflix actually helped ALT Balaji position itself as “mass” and more mainstream, especially for the non-metro markets in India. The platform has relied on quantity, launching shows every other week, and Gandii Baat, which explores the erotic genre from the small-town/ rural lens, is arguably its most successful show till date. When compared to other platforms that didn’t make it to this Top 5 list, like Zee5, Voot and Sony LIV, ALT Balaji’s run is impressive, particularly because it did not have much GEC catch-up content to provide an early cushion.

 

4. Netflix

It’s difficult to split Amazon Prime Video and Netflix on rank. Netflix is clearly the more niche of the two, operating as a standalone content service at a much higher price-point than Amazon. When Netflix launched, its price-point was seen as prohibitive by many. It took some time for Netflix to customise, and the launch of the Rs 199 mobile-only service in 2019 was a sign that they are willing to adapt to the unique rules that the Indian market can demand from global players. Netflix’s content strategy has been to focus on less but high-quality content, though some of their 2019 India shows, such as Sacred Games 2 and Bard Of Blood, fall short of that high standard. The platform’s imagery, however, remains strongly associated with high-quality international content, and that’s a sub-genre in which it’s a clear leader.

 

3. Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video’s launch in India was in line with its global strategy to create content to fuel the retail business through content engagement. Compared to its competitor Netflix, Amazon’s OTT strategy in India relies on higher number of big-ticket launches and more aggressive film acquisitions. Through Mirzapur last year and The Family Man this year, the platform has managed to create top-end Indian content, which puts it in a very credible space as we enter a new decade.

 

2. TVF

TVF (The Viral Fever) is the only content creator in this list of OTT platforms. Being the early innovators (remember Permanent Roommates and Pitchers), TVF had its OTT moments much before the big players came. Some argued that TVF would fizzle out as big budgets come into play, but the platform continues to be amazingly consistent with its quality, and this year’s Kota Factory is the latest testimony to that. Having addressed a definitive segment of the urban Indian youth, especially men, TVF is in a rock-solid position to be the most-sought-after content creator in the new decade.

 

1. Hotstar

Hotstar came before everyone else, in early 2015. And with each passing year, the Star-owned platform has managed to stay ahead of the OTT evolution curve, especially in the area of marketing. Taking IPL digital rights, even before Star had the broadcasting rights, was a clear indication that Star meant business with Hotstar, and this year has seen a lot more action to support that line of thought, with the launch of the VIP service and Hotstar Originals. In the new decade, Hotstar will have to do a bit more to more away from its image of being primarily a catch-up TV and digital sports platform. But that work has already started, it seems.

 

 

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