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Nearly two years since Zee, BookMyShow, Shemaroo and Amazon Prime launched pay-per-view services, the model continues to remain niche in India. Media industry experts point out that these services offer limited choice of content, making it less appealing. Further, as most consumers have resumed outdoor entertainment activities and many have ongoing annual OTT subscriptions, pay-per-view, also called transaction video-on-demand (TVoD) has not emerged as a preferred mode to watch content. It is also unlikely to challenge the subscription or free model in terms of reach.

“TVoD services are still considered niche in India because they are not as widely available as other video content platforms, such as SVoD or AVoD TVoD services tend to be offered by specific content providers rather than through generalist platforms. It may mean that they have a more limited selection of content, which can make them less appealing to users," said Greg Armshaw, senior director, strategy, Brightcove, a global provider of cloud solutions for video. SVoD and AVoD stand for subscription video-on-demand and advertising-based video-on-demand respectively.

As concerns about the pandemic have lessened, consumers have largely returned to old habits, Armshaw added. “Today, Indian audiences are visiting theatres for the experience of watching a film, and most consumers already have ongoing subscriptions to all the major OTT platforms. TVoD is more premium and thus, by definition, not mass market and unlikely to challenge subscription or free distribution models in terms of reach," Armshaw said, adding that it is, however, an important tool for the content rights owner to maximize the lifetime value of the content.

TVoD may not help build a long-standing relationship with viewers, said Rishabh Khatter, business head at The Rabbit Hole, a video content solutions agency owned by Zoo Media. They might visit your OTT platform store tab for a specific movie or web series and never return after they watch it.

TVoD continues to have niche traction in India due to the cost barrier, said Keerat Grewal, partner at media consulting firm Ormax. In 2021, only 11.5% of the OTT universe were paying for at least one SVoD app. “While the OTT universe will grow in India, that growth will come primarily from AVoD adds, including YouTube. With SVoD audience in terms of absolute numbers growing at a slower pace, the growth in TVoD can be expected to be significantly low," Grewal added.

Neeraj Sharma, managing director, communications, media and technology, Accenture in India said that globally, two kinds of content categories have gained traction as TVoD – pay-per-view live sports offering and indie films. “In India, sports content is currently used as an acquisition tool and is therefore offered as a package instead of TVoD. The commercial market for Indie films is under-developed," Sharma pointed out.

In a price-sensitive and value-centric market like India, getting people to pay for content might seem challenging, Mitesh Kothari, co-founder and chief creative officer at digital agency White Rivers Media said. “Especially when the data rates are this low, most people might choose to watch content online rather than buy or rent it. However, some premium customers who subscribe to only some OTT platforms show greater interest in TVoD. If data costs rise, TVoD could become the preferred choice of the masses," he pointed out.

Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer, cinemas, at BookMyShow said the TVoD model entered India significantly after the SVoD model took off. “However, for a movie-loving nation like India, the TVoD model has a critical advantage where fans want to watch a film as soon as it releases rather than wait for it to come online, several weeks later when it may be cheaper or easier. The gap between a theatrical release and a movie’s availability on an SVoD platform, especially for Hollywood films, is sometimes as long as 8-12 weeks. It is this gap that the TVoD model has plugged, especially since Indian audiences prefer watching films as soon as they are available," Saksena said. 

Growth of BookMyShow Stream, the TVoD platform owned by the company, has doubled year-on-year in terms of number of streams sold across both rent and buy options and also reached its highest ever mark in April 2022, crossing 52,000 streams sold for global and Indian on-demand content for the month, Saksena said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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