Benita Chacko

Unbundling India's bundled OTT ecosystem

As OTT viewing rises, DTH players and app-based platforms are turning into aggregators. What benefits do they offer these streaming services?

Earlier this month, Dish TV launched Watcho OTT plans that will offer bundled OTT platform packages. 

Last month, Tata Play's OTT aggregator, Binge, expanded its service for non-subscribers. It will now be available for all smart TV and smartphone users, without an active DTH subscription.

In June, HT Labs' recommendation and content discovery platform for streaming services, OTTplay, turned into an aggregator, with the launch of OTTplay Premium. 

These are just some of the aggregators that are helping OTT platforms widen their subscriber base and providing new revenue avenues. An OTT aggregator allows a viewer to watch multiple streaming services on one platform through a single login as well as payment mechanism. 

The telecom operators were among the first to offer an aggregated OTT service. They bundle various offerings with their mobile tariff plans to attract smartphone users. Now, the market is flooded with app-based aggregators, DTH operators and even OTT platforms themselves. For example, Prime Video Channels streams content from platforms like Discovery+, Lionsgate Play, DocuBay, and many others.

Unbundling India's bundled OTT ecosystem

Benefits to OTT platforms

Research shows that more than half of the country’s 73 million subscriptions in 2021 came from OTT bundling with other services. Avinash Mudaliar, cofounder and CEO, OTTplay, says aggregators can add at least 20-30% of subscribers to the existing base of the streaming platforms. 

The platform has on board several international streaming services like Hallmark and Tastemade. He says, “OTTplay has contributed to at least 70-80% of their growth in India. We are literally building their entire ecosystem in India.”

According to Deloitte’s TMT Predictions Report 2022, India has around 40 video streaming apps and 102 million paying content subscribers. The figures are estimated to expand at 17% CAGR to reach 224 million by 2026. The aggregators can help boost the subscriber base.

Unbundling India's bundled OTT ecosystem

"These aggregators foster the growth of the entire OTT ecosystem. With the increase in the visibility of content and viewers, production houses of all sizes will be encouraged to develop fresh content," says Chandrashekar Mantha, partner, Deloitte.

Being in the distribution business, the DTH operators already have a huge subscriber base. The OTT platforms can benefit from that.

“The platforms can benefit from the combined subscriber base of Watcho, Dish TV and D2H. Even non-subscribers can watch content on Watcho. We can provide a very wide reach, both online and offline,” says Sukhpreet Singh, corporate head – marketing, DishTV and WATCHO, Dish TV India.

The Deloitte report predicts that AVoD revenue will increase - from $1.1 billion in 2021 to $2.4 billion in 2026. Meanwhile, SVoD is expected to grow - from $800 million at present to $2.1 billion in 2026. With limited subscription revenues, OTT players have to deal with rising costs. These alternate forms of distribution contribute to the growth of subscription revenue. 

Unbundling India's bundled OTT ecosystem

Anurag Kumar, chief communications officer, Tata Play, says that platforms like Binge help to expand the OTT market, by converting free users into paid subscribers.

"In India, about 450 million people watch online videos. But these are primarily free content. Some of them may be interested in consuming better quality content, which is generally paid. Through the benefits of aggregation, we are helping convert these people.”

Moreover, it helps the platforms cut down on their customer acquisition cost (CAC). According to industry estimates, the CAC for video OTT players can range between $3 and $8. With the aggregators stepping in, they bring in the customers.

Unbundling India's bundled OTT ecosystem

Karan Taurani, senior vice president, Elara Capital, says Indians generally prefer bundled packages. A similar behaviour is observed with television channels as well. 

“There are very few customers who want to subscribe to these platforms on an a la carte basis. Consumers had the choice to choose their television channels on an a la carte basis but only 7-8% opted for it. 92% subscriptions are still bouquet based,” he says.

On an average, each paying customer in India has 2.4 subscriptions. The viewers generally opt for the mainstream platforms, while the regional or niche platforms tend to lose out. The aggregated bundles help these smaller platforms to bring in the customers.

"Regional language OTT apps will also get an increased viewer share, leading to further push in niche content development. Additionally, the smaller OTT apps will also find its market with the distribution might of aggregators," mentions Deloitte’s Mantha.

He believes that more subscribers will opt for subscription to aggregator platforms, eventually leading to increase in fixed revenues for the industry. “Multiple customised packages will be curated by aggregators to increase the adoption of smaller customer segments,” he adds.

Benefits for the viewers

For the viewers, these aggregators offer a better viewing experience, the convenience of managing so many accounts at one place, and savings. 

Industry experts suggest that while OTT viewing is increasing, there is also a rising wallet fatigue. These aggregators help to combat this fatigue, as the viewer gets access to a huge content library in a single app, at affordable pricing.

Tata Play Binge, which has partnered with 17 streaming services, offers eight apps at a monthly price of Rs 59 to the viewers. Similarly, Watcho, which has 11 platforms on board, offers access to five apps at the monthly price of Rs 49. Meanwhile, the base plan of OTTplay, which has 14 platforms, offers five apps at an annual price of Rs 699 (Rs 58.25 per month). The platform mentions that the aggregated bundle helps viewers save up to Rs 4,897.

Unbundling India's bundled OTT ecosystem

Aggregation Model

The aggregators can offer such attractive prices because they get a highly discounted subscription fee. Taurani says that they get it down by at least 60-65% on the guarantee of a minimum number of subscribers. 

The bundles are created keeping three factors in mind- abundance, personalisation and affordability. 

Unbundling India's bundled OTT ecosystem

“People in India are not just price sensitive, but also content sensitive. While selecting a bundle, they see how much percentage of the content is relevant for them and then decide if it is value for money,” says Mudaliar. 

Since a large percentage of Indians are still watching content for free, Singh sees huge potential for aggregators to grow here. “There is great scope to increase the penetration of premium, paid OTT content,” he says. 


Tata Play (erstwhile Tata Sky) was the first DTH operator to launch an aggregation service in 2020. But now, with many other services having entered the market, what factors differentiate one from another?

Primarily, it is the content, that is, the number and the nature of the platforms. For example, OTTplay offers a plethora of niche apps like Dust Sci-Fi, Curiosity and Shorts TV. 

Secondly, it is the user experience. “It's not considered very important today in the country. But it is going to be absolutely critical. How does it work on a smartphone? How easy is it to play content? Does the app crash? These factors are going to be a key differentiator going forward,” says Tata Play’s Kumar.

This also includes how the content is presented to the viewers. For example, Tata Play lays it out in rails and it is segregated in categories. One can filter content based on combinations, like language-genre. 

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