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Business News/ Opinion / Columns/  OTT aggregators: All you need to know about emergence of these in India
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OTT aggregators: All you need to know about emergence of these in India

OTT aggregators serve as intermediaries between consumers and myriad streaming platforms. But finding the optimal aggregator requires that consumers look into the fine print

Reliance Jio also provides access to its own Jio TV and JioCinema bouquet of content apart from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar (iStock)Premium
Reliance Jio also provides access to its own Jio TV and JioCinema bouquet of content apart from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar (iStock)

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series on OTT aggregators in India.

THE RISE OF over-the-top, or OTT, platforms has been a generally good thing for consumers and content creators in India. It is expected to reach a market cap of over US$7 billion by 2027. The OTT market currently boasts anywhere between 40-60 video entertainment apps. That means, in addition to the big ticket Netflix, Disney+ Hoststar and Amazon Prime, India also has a bunch of OTT platforms focussing on regional content such as Hoichoi (Bangla), Planet Marathi (Marathi), OHO Gujarati (Gujarati), Nammaflix (Kannada), and numerous more.

But this also gives rise to the ‘paradox of choice’: The tendency for people to get overwhelmed with variety.

According to a study by Accenture (involving 6,000 consumers in 10 countries), 72 percent of the consumers were frustrated with finding something to watch, and 26 percent took more than 10 minutes to settle on a choice. Sounds familiar?

This dilemma makes the case for OTT aggregator platforms stronger. India has seen a jump on this front as well, with many players such as Amazon Prime Video Channels, Tata Play Binge, OTTplay, Airtel Xstream and many more offering OTT aggregation.

What are OTT aggregators?

OTT aggregators are platforms that allow users to discover and view streaming content from various OTT apps, in one place. The consumer shouldn’t have to go through the rigmarole of deciding what they want to watch, but have the aggregator app make suggestions across platforms based on their viewing history. The Accenture survey confirms this point and has noted that 95 percent of consumers in India want an all-in-one platform to simplify their entertainment experiences.

Given the economic situation, subscription fatigue is setting in. Gone are the glory days for streaming services which saw a massive spike when people were stuck at home during the pandemic. It makes little economic sense to subscribe to multiple OTT apps when there are OTT aggregators offering you a similar experience at a fraction of the cost.

But you need to be aware of the difference between OTT aggregators and redistribution agencies. If you are offered a bouquet of different streaming services by an aggregator, but you still have to login to each of these streamers, then it's a redistribution agency. This won't have the same benefits that OTT aggregators come with, which we have listed below.

Here are a few aspects that you should keep in mind when opting for OTT aggregators:

  1. Hassle-free experience

Instead of paying separately for different streaming platforms and having multiple user logins for each of them, OTT aggregators provide a single sign-on interface along with single billing. Consumers also don’t have to switch between different streaming apps or websites when it comes to searching for content as most aggregators have universal search. A single bill means easy management of payments across multiple platforms.

  1. Recommendation system

Every streaming service offers AI-powered recommendation engines which suggest content based on your viewing history. When looking for an OTT aggregator, you need to check how good the AI recommendation is across its various services. For instance, if you binged a history documentary on Curiosity Stream, the app should recommend related documentaries from other streaming services in the bundle as well. The aggregator should not just dump all the content from all the platforms offered, but instead have a user interface that offers a curated experience. This helps the consumer in saving valuable time searching for content.

  1. Keep an eye on not just savings

One of the major reasons to subscribe to an OTT aggregator is cost savings. Since this is a relatively new sector, prices start from as low as 60 per month. However, one must not only look at how much one is saving, but also be informed about which streaming services are offered in the package, what are limitations in terms of account logins/ screens/ resolutions, and if there is any content that’s blocked. If an OTT aggregator isn’t transparent about these things, then you should look elsewhere.

  1. Discover international and regional streaming services

As OTT aggregators compete with each other, the only way one can stand apart from the other is by offering great content. Smaller OTT apps focusing on regional content or international streaming services from other countries may find it very difficult to chart out a path on their own. But with OTT aggregators, the variety of streaming services on offer also increases. It exposes consumers to niche platforms. For instance, OTTplay has brought Hallmark Movies Now and Tastemade+ to India.

  1. Beware of OTT aggregator scams

As is the case with every technology, there are many scammers out there in this space as well. Avoid falling for random advertisements you may come across on social media which promise streaming bundles at ridiculously low costs. A quick way to identify these scams is that they ask you to register on some WhatsApp number, there isn’t any professional website that the advertisement leads to, and they have badly made digital art with logos of popular streaming services. These services are illegal as they don’t have licences to distribute copyrighted content. Some of these OTT aggregators have agreements with internet service providers that have legal agreements with streaming services. So you may not get access to the content you were promised.

OTT aggregators are filling a market gap

As more OTT players come on the market, consumers will need OTT aggregators to make the viewing experience easier. Kurate Digital Consulting senior partner Uday Sodhi told exchange4media that aggregation is a normal business evolution once there are more players in the market. "This will open up opportunities for a lot of OTT platforms to get into the OTT business because then they are not worried about distribution," said Sodhi.

While OTT aggregators are yet to come under the purview of any government policies, OTT content comes under the purview of the Information Technology (Intermediate Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021. Siddharth Mahajan, a partner at a legal firm, told Mint that these guidelines give enough leeway to OTT platforms to self-regulate themselves.

According to a Deloitte report, by 2026 there could be an estimated 224 million paying subscribers in India. OTT aggregators will be playing a major role in ensuring that the number is achieved in a price-sensitive market like India.


Internationally too, aggregation is a big theme as more OTT players enter the market. But in developed markets such as the US and Europe, the stress is more on 'super-aggregators' that bundle not just OTT services, but also linear TV that could include live broadcasts of sporting events as well as audio streaming services. Super-aggregators are practical only in cases where there is: a) an already existing base of pay TV customers who can be onboarded with OTT offerings, b) leadership in product and service innovation, and 3) the user experience of consumers plays a huge role in decision-making.

For instance, in the US there's a Disney+/ESPN+/Hulu (including Spotify Premium) bundle which addresses a huge consumer base. There are services such as Struum and VRV which offer selected curated content from different streaming services, hence can boast of big brand partnerships but at lower price points. Then there are services such as JustWatch which offer a database to find out which movie or TV series is showing on which platform and if it's available to rent or buy.

The larger lesson from international trends is that the entertainment content (TV, movies, OTT apps, audio, live sports) can be sliced in a variety of ways for different price segments. As OTT aggregators in India mature, we will start to see such trends catching up here as well.

In part 2, a look at consumers’ experiences with specific aggregators. Read here.

Nimish Sawant has been a tech journalist for over 12 years, with bylines in tech2, Informed, Insider and others. Follow his work at @nimsaw

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Published: 14 May 2023, 06:27 AM IST
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