One of the early entrants in the OTT industry, ZengaTV has managed to earn loyal through an array of original and acquired content pieces. Social Samosa gets in conversation with Shabir Shabir Momin, MD & CTO, Zenga TV, to understand his view on the present day OTT industry and what can be expected in terms of trends.
Momin sheds light on the dominance of regional content, OTT distribution strategies and more. Excerpts below.
From an OTT market perspective, how was 2017? Which were the major trends?
2017 was a great year and has seen a huge consumer growth on video streaming pace. The OTT market is bound to grow and keep growing, this is inevitable. While the viewership is shifting from linear viewing to either playlist viewing (which is the new linear), especially for those who do not want to search content and video on demand especially for the content made internet. TV market has evolved over the period of time ranging from the limited options of one TV channel with limited show to genre specific channels available today. OTT adding internet focused content to the equation is changing the game. OTT players are mushrooming across the world and gaining not just consumers’ acceptance but also popularity among the patrons. It shows that it is here to rule for long. Different players in the space are taking different approach, so there are many trends, the good news is all of them are great and heading to a common goal of getting more users aware and changing their content consumption behaviour.
Please shed light on the changing content consumption patterns
With the increasing penetration of smartphone, there is an upsurge in the content consumption pattern. OTT content has left no stone unturned to capture the video consummation market. With its high demand, it is growing exponentially. It has been observed that patrons are consuming web based OTT content at large scale and it has been increasing with a great pace. Consumers are swamped with the varied data packs from service providers which indeed are boosting OTT market. Consumers are quiet aware about their choices available and but still want the OTT services free of subscription fee
How would you position Zenga TV in the OTT market? What is the USP that keeps the platform ahead of its competitors?
I believe that Zenga TV has carved the niche in the OTT space quiet successfully so far. Infact, after delivering IPL exclusively on Zenga TV, it has evolved in many ways, from reaching to multiple screens to multiple types of content and also focuses on all segments of users of the market. Our unique technology which could stream at a lower bandwidth surprisingly is still relevant even though we are at 4G and heading to 5G now. We have moved from just few hundred users to over 40 million users globally now. We have a good repeat user base and the freedom of no registration, no fee, and also no app as a must has been a great hit with the users. We have also launched personalized, video discovery and recommendation chatbot on Facebook last year to reach users across platforms, understand their content consumption patterns, and help them get what they want in a conversational manner. Competition is always healthy, it not only shows we are in the right space but also distributes the burden of creating awareness in the market and It only helps grow the market
What are the major challenges faced by OTT players in India?
There are and will always be challenges in terms of patches which doesn’t have good connectivity, sometimes content owners have unrealistic expectations, but these are just about time before it gets reduced. We have seen the time from where even getting an email downloaded to a phone was a big challenge to an era where my kids would say how was that even possible
Lot of new things are happening in the regional content space, while some are using subtitle to make it compatible to a larger audience, the others are making more content in that particular language. Addition of channels in different languages by different players is a clear attempt to reach out the maximum regional audience. Basically there is a major chunk of patrons from tier II and III cities who prefer the content in their native language in order to get emotionally connected with the content. Consumers like to see entertainment in their first language. I see a huge growth in the regional market, it is a next big wave in this industry
Original content is said to be the core crowd pooler, how do you plan to incorporate this trend in your strategy?
In today’s scenario it is not just important to have original content but the content should have substance to grab the eyeballs. Consumers are quiet aware of their options and choices these days that they prefer to watch smart cinema. Therefore it is equally important to show content which is unique and different from the mundane content. People tend to get bored so soon and to keep their interest intact with the content is a challenge of another level. We believe in the same strategy and therefore our company, One Digital Entertainment curates the original content for the consumers. It has just made the award winning web series titled ‘SOS’- Survivors Of Suicide. The series brings forth stories of people who have put on a brave face and fought to overcome prejudices and struggles that plague our society when it comes to mental stress. With this series, the network aims to spread awareness about mental stress issues and stamp out the stigma associated with it. The other few digital shows include Hitched, India’s digital superstar, Spice traveler etc.
What kind of distribution strategies are OTT players adapting to, to enhance the reach of their content?
OTT players have widened their reach through multi-screen to reach out to the audience. They are showcasing all types of content on smartphone, TV, laptop, pc etc to give user a different viewing experience as per their convenience. Collaboration with operators to embed the app in the smart television is also one of the attempts to reach out. Content on different genres are produced keeping in mind the interest of the target audience. Producing content in the regional language is also another way to keep it going.
Do you plan to partner other OTT networks as a distribution channel for their original content?
We believe in content collaboration. We already have a lot of content partners from different genre with whom we share the common vision. It is necessary to sync with the partners to drive it together. We are open for all kind of content tie-ups as a content partner. We would like to welcome all in this case, Omni presence is the key to success in this industry.