Video streaming platforms in India with paid subscribers could introduce advertising plans to attract more users, after US streaming platform Netflix hinted at such a model for cheaper plans last week. .
While Amazon Prime Video launched its free miniTV service last May in the Android app with a library of web series and comedy sketches, others offer older movies or a few episodes of popular shows for free, or s ‘hang on branded content that isn’t behind the paywall.
Media pundits said a freemium strategy entices users to subscribe, and is also a big monetization opportunity for the platform, with the digital advertising market expected to grow 35-40% annually.
Although Amazon’s miniTV is different from the paid Prime Video platform and available in the Amazon shopping app for Android devices, most other platforms host free offerings alongside paid ones within of the same service.
“Subscriptions can never be enough for any service to grow in India, whether it’s news, digital media or television, and the advertising industry is huge in the world, helping to 66-75% of revenue depending on the market,” said Chanpreet Arora, Head – AVoD (Voot), Viacom18 Digital Ventures. AVoD refers to ad-driven video-on-demand services. Voot launched two new free shows this month to specifically reach male audiences in Tier 1 and 2 metros and cities. The idea behind the unpaid content is to build reach and engagement, which can then convert to brand loyalty, with 10-20% of users eventually subscribing, Arora said.
Manish Kalra, Chief Commercial Officer of ZEE5 India, said the platform’s AVoD library offers viewers a way to sample upcoming SVoD (subscription video) launches in addition to the ability to consume content before it will only air on TV if the streaming service is owned by a broadcaster. “Besides presenting content, it familiarizes the user with the platform and makes them more willing to sign up for the paid service later,” Kalra said.
The AVoD library offers over 70 live news channels in all languages, episodic content currently airing on TV as well as free archival shows, in addition to over 2,000 free movies in all languages. There is also additional content created around broadcast shows like behind the scenes, shoulder content, gamification and contests to engage TV audiences, Kalra said.
Free app offers encourage frequent visits and increase time spent on the app, which ultimately leads to the habit of visiting the app regularly, said Ajit Thakur, CEO of Telugu streaming service aha. “When you’re looking for entertainment, the app finally becomes an important part of your consideration set. Simultaneously, free app offers drive users to discover premium or paid content and pay for it,” said Thakur, whose platform offers free old movies and early episodes of some of its non-fiction series.
Divya Dixit, senior vice president, marketing and revenue at ALTBalaji, said the platform, which has partnered with advertising service MX Player for its reality show LockUpp, is open to other partnerships that will help it reach the masses. “There is a long-term strategy in sight for AVoD activities on ALTBalaji where we can explore various formats in the fiction and non-fiction space. We want to have a prominent presence in this segment to further reach and target our audience,” said Dixit.
The platform already offers more than 33 original shows, several music and motivational videos, celebrity cricket properties for free on its platform.
Soumya Mukherjee, vice president, revenue and strategy at Bengali-language service Hoichoi, said the service also plans to introduce a freemium section which will have content for new, free, short episodic shows aimed at a pay-hesitant base. to this organize. “We released two original shows in association with brands that represented their ethos but were fictionalized to entertain our users. These are currently available for free on the platform for more people to watch, fulfilling the brand promise and also discover Hoichoi,” Mukherjee said.
Usually, dated and less requested content is used to attract non-subscribers to the platform, in the hope that they will convert to see the quality content behind the paywall, said Neeraj Sharma, Managing Director – communications, media and technology, Accenture India. To keep content free, the key deciding factor is that the acquisition cost should be low. “Typically, ‘filler’ content, meaning the type of content that viewers won’t proactively seek out, is made free,” Sharma said. “Offering free content is not much different from sampling strategies for any other consumer product category. However, one can achieve greater success through ‘bag’ offers of premium content,” he said. added.