Anirban Roy Choudhury

Will Indians pay for online video content?

TVF's Arunabh Kumar, voot's Gaurav Gandhi, Balaji's Sameer Nair, Vuclip's Vishal Kumar Maheshwari discussed this at vdonxt asia 2017 last week.

"To pay or not to pay?" is one of the most common questions in a price sensitive market such as India and Janine Stein, editorial director, ContentAsia, opened with this question to a panel comprising of Arunabh Kumar, founder - CEO, TVF; Gaurav Gandhi, COO, Viacom Digital Ventures; Sameer Nair, group CEO, Balaji Telefilms and Vishal Kumar Maheshwari, country manager, Vuclip, India.

Stein was moderating the session that took place at vdonxt asia 2017, a two-day convention focusing on the future of digital business. The session started with Kumar who was of the opinion that Indians at this stage are not ready to pay for content and that is primarily because of the habit created by traditional media over the years of offering free content. "India is a country where blockbuster movies are broadcast on television for free and consumers are habituated to free viewing phenomenon," he said.

Will Indians pay for online video content?
Nair contradicted Kumar's remarks and said, "The same Indians who knew that 'Dangal' will come on TV for free went to theaters and paid over Rs 350 crore to watch the movie. Not all Indians will pay but there are a set of them who are ready to pay and I see business opportunities there."

Voot at this stage is an advertising based video on demand platform and has no plans of changing the revenue model at this stage. "In the current scenario, what we feel is the number of people who are ready to pay is very small and hence we intend to continue as an AVOD platform," said Gandhi. He also added, "We could only manage to follow the AVOD route, because of the library we have." Catch up television continues to be one of the primary traffic drivers to digital platforms in India and Viacom18 being a broadcaster has access to all the network content that it uploads on Voot for streaming.

Maheshwari's opinion aligned with that of Nair. He too, thinks that the subscription based revenue model has a lot of opportunity in India. "Look at the DTH growth in India, it clearly shows the opportunities," he said.

Will India pay or not? What place does subscription based model have in the Indian digital ecosystem? The panel had mixed opinions about it and it remains to be seen what unfolds as time passes.

Event partners include: Adobe (Presented By), Viu (Powered By), Akamai (Technology Partner), Voot (Digital Partner), EY (Knowledge Partner), Unruly (Video Partner), Dropbox Business (Collaboration Partner), Web Talkies (Entertainment Partner), (New Age Digital Partner), Culture Machine (Content Partner), 24 Frames Digital (Streaming Partner), (Blogging Partner), NDTV Prime (TV Partner), Content Asia (International Media Partner), and Advertising Agencies Association of India and The Advertising Club (Community Partners).

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