Benita Chacko

How do online video platforms decide what their viewers may want to watch?

The second panel discussion of Voot presents vdonxt asia Week looks at how these platforms are developing their recommendation technology to help viewers choose their preferred content.

In 2021, the OTT universe in India saw the release of 350 films and web series- 125 direct to OTT movies and 225 original web series. Apart from that there is a whole lot of catchup television, YouTube and Vimeo content, sports and then social media video content. With so much content available online, the audience is truly spoiled for choice. How do the viewers navigate through this virtual sea to decide what they want to watch? It would be impossible without the recommendation engines that always seem to know your preferences.

The second panel discussion of Voot presents vdonxt asia Week looks at how platforms decide what viewers may want to watch. Moderated by Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO at Ormax Media, the panel comprised Deepak Salvi, co-founder and chief operating officer, Chingari, Pankaj Mittal, director of engineering, Vimeo, Radhakrishnan Ramachandran, founder and CEO, Koode and Vishnu Mohta, co-founder at Hoichoi.

Being one of the first indie OTT platforms in India, Mohta shared his experience of building an engagement strategy for the viewer. He said their experience has been entirely to play catch up.

“I don't think anybody has got a complete grasp on this. It's a constant evolution on the Data Science Front. Also a lot of technology today is available for zero cost. A predictive model of the likely customers who will pay for content can be achieved with 80-90% accuracy with a lot of that freely available tech. It is how you implement it with your data set,” he said.

The situation is very different on social media where the content is shorter and stickiness is an issue. Salvi shared his views on attaining a balance between increasing the time spent by viewers and acquiring new viewers.

He said, “From the initial period, our focus was on getting the engagement time. Our engagement time is 40 to 45 minutes. If I get subscribers and I don't give them good content and good suggestions for content then what's the use of getting more subscribers onboard. Coming from the content background, the knowledge helps us to create the shorter format also. We were not focusing on the top tier-one creators, we were focusing on creating an army of creators. Technology also helped- we have hired the best talent from the international and Indian market to work on AI ML.”

In the last couple of years, the audience has become open to exploring content in other languages as well. That has brought people of differing tastes onto one platform. Ramachandran said that they depend on YouTube currently to understand the content choices of audiences of such differing tastes.

“For us YouTube is the Bible. We manage close to 500 million plus subscribers across multiple genres in multiple languages. So as a data point, we always go back to YouTube and find out what content people are looking at. It's a very early stage for us as we are hardly a year old. We are trying to create a decluttered, curated mini YouTube in Malayalam. We are closer to YouTube than to an OTT. So we're trying to identify the creators in the YouTube or social media ecosystem. We identify them early enough and work with them to go a few steps above and create content which is in between YouTube and Netflix. That's the model we've been pursuing,” he said.

Mittal said that Vimeo is no longer competing with YouTube as it now focuses on creators and not viewers. “When Vimeo started it was a competitor of YouTube. But we can't compete with these big players so Vimeo changed the strategy along the way. Vimeo is no longer a viewer-centric platform, but creator-centric. Vimeo has high-quality content, like lots of filmmakers, photographers and video creators are on Vimeo rather than YouTube. Most of the people who are switching from YouTube to Vimeo, want a clutter free, ad-free tool,” he said.

Watch the full discussion here:

Nepa India

Nepa India is a consumer science firm helping some of the world's most reputable brands in more than 50 countries to unlock growth and profitability across all main areas impacting their customer relationship: Marketing Optimization, Innovation and Customer Experience.

It is headquartered in Stockholm and Nepa in India is creating unconventional solutions in digital research for their clients in emerging categories. Keeping the focus on the fast-evolving content ecosystem, Nepa has supported major OTT players, production houses, and media majors to tell incredible stories, develop impactful content, and optimize viewer experience. Nepa works with qualitative, quantitative, and other new-age tech domains to understand consumers. And it is creating research literature for emerging categories like OTT, Consumer tech and also for emerging cohorts across established industries.

Backed by its strong culture consulting expertise, Nepa's core purpose is to make research marketing friendly and redefine the way consumer science is perceived.

Nepa is known for its straightforward, no-nonsense consumer insights approach to nurture and grow its client's brands. Nepa also creates thought-provoking and powerful thought leadership content through its marquee properties, Originals & Espresso.

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