Bangladeshi production company and content provider Crown Entertainment although began its journey only during the end of 2019, by now it has already emerged into the largest production company and content provider and has provided contents such as special length films, short films, dramas, and TV serials to local television channels and digital platforms.
Commenting on Crown Entertainment’s preparations for providing Bangla contents such as full-length feature films, web films, and web series to international OTT platforms, Tajul Islam, Deputy CEO of the company said: Currently there are there are over 40 OTT platforms in India, such as HoiChoi, Netflix India, Disney Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Sony Liv, Zee5, Voot, MX Player, Alt Balaji, Big Flix, Ullu App, Sun NXT, TVF Play, EROS Now, Jio Cinema, Airtel Xstream, Shemaroo, Viu etcetera.
In China, the largest video streaming platform, iqiyi.com, is still expanding. As of January 2021, the Netflix of China ranked first among its rivals with a total of 176 million unique visitors in China, about 33 million more than that of Alibaba’s Youku.
Understanding the global trend of switching to OTT platforms, we do believe, Bangla contents definite have a massive prospect as the size of Bangla-speaking population in the world is more than 250 million, while in Bangladesh and India alone, the number of internet users (from mobile phones, PCs and television sets) are over 120 million. The number of internet users will continue to grow within the span on next 4-5 years.
In Bangladesh, for example, the government has been giving special emphasis on digitalization, while internet facilities are steadily being expanding to rural population. This is a great sign, particularly for the international OTT platforms, which are looking for new areas to further expand and explore their market possibilities.
Over the past decade, the number of internet users in China has doubled. As of the end of 2020, about 989 million Chinese had used the Internet. While the absolute number of users seems high, there is yet a massive potential of internet users to be unlocked, as the internet penetration in China was still relatively low compared to other large economies in the world. Soaring user numbers have had an immediate impact on the development of online video platforms. Whereas a mere 202 million Chinese had watched videos online in December 2008, this number increased fourfold in 2020, surpassing the 926 million benchmarks. That year, online video user penetration had ranged at 93.7 percent.
We have to eye on the OTT platform, as it is going to replace today’s theaters (cinema halls) and multiplex, as people feel much comfortable in watching their favorite movies and web series on OTT platforms at their convenient timing.
Moreover, the number of subscribers on the OTT platforms are increasing very fast. For example, current Netflix has 209 million (an increase of more than 16 million in a year) subscribers with Amazon 112 million (up from 95 million in June 2018), Zee5 72.60 million (with 6.10 million active subscribers daily) and Hulu 42.80 million. Each of these subscribers are paying monthly fees to the platforms. Pretty soon, the OTT platforms will become profitable ventures in every country in the world.
Crown Entertainment’s Deputy CEO Tajul Islam’s opinion is echoed by the Chief Operating Office of Crown Creations, a sister concern of Crown, which is specialized in marketing of contents for TV channels and digital platforms.
Syed Iqbal, Chief Operating Office of Crown Creations said: We are fully aware of the huge prospect of the OTT platforms, which actually is going to replace conventional TV channels, cinema halls and multiplexes pretty soon. Bangla-speaking population is a huge market for the international OTT platforms, and we do believe, many of the international OTT platforms already are looking for their best-suitable partners in Bangladesh.
Responding to a question whether international OTT platforms such as Amazon, Netflix and Hulu can collect Bangla contents from their India officers as well as aggregators and vendors in India, Syed Iqbal said: This may not be a grand idea, as collecting Bangla contents through offices or aggregators and vendors in India would face numerous obstacles, particularly when it is the question of making payments for the contents to Bangladeshi production companies and content providers. What I believe, those global OTT platforms will soon open their own offices in Bangladesh or enter into agreement with some large production companies such as Crown and assign the responsibility as their agent or vendors. Take the instances of Indian OTT platforms Zee5 or HoiChoi. Although they already are buying contents from Bangladesh, no one is raising the question about payment system yet. But, once this question comes at front, in my opinion, there would be some legal complications, and some of those Indian OTT platforms may even face allegations of money laundering by the Bangladesh authorities.
Many OTT platforms are eyeing on Bangla contents from Bangladesh
According to media reports, a group of entrepreneurs currently are working for setting up a multi-national media company named Trishul Limited with offices and production facilities in Bangladesh, India, Thailand and Hong Kong. This multi-million-dollar company is expected to start operations from the end of 2021 or early 2022.
Giving initial idea about the business plan of Trishul Limited, Bob Giddings, Chief Coordinator of the company said: “We are going to begin our operations with three digital platforms of our own, and these aren’t OTT platforms. Our goal is to buy Bangla contents for these digital platforms as well produce contents both for our own digital platforms as well as global OTT platforms. We have been discussing business plans with filmmakers in India, Bangladesh and Thailand, while in Bangladesh, we are considering appointing Crown Entertainment as our content provider. With an initial capital of BDT 1.50 billion, Trishul’s aim is to emerge as a strong platform, which can offer various types of Bangla contents, such as full-length feature films, web films and web series to Indian, Bangladeshi and global OTT platforms”.
He said, the company will be having its own pre/post-production equipment and facilities in Bangladesh and elsewhere, which would include modern dubbing studios.
Bob Giddings said: “The size of Bangla-speaking population in Bangladesh, India and the world is huge. This truly is one of the key markets for OTT platforms in particular and we hope to play important role in helping the international OTT platforms in doing good business in this market”.
OTT Media aka Over The Top Media has surfaced in the market as a product of the internet with evolving devices that allow consumers to access active content from anywhere at any time. Internet consumption all over the world has increased tremendously since its inception and we have certainly come a long way since waiting for our favorite shows to air at a certain time to watching our shows as and when we wish to today.
An over the top media service is any content provider that offers streaming media in the form of video, audio, messaging and even voice calling services. One of the earliest and most popular examples of this service is Netflix that has 155 million subscribers globally.
OTT Media was a solution to quick content access that arose with high-speed internet services which meant, users wouldn’t have to wait to watch their favorite shows or movie anymore. All that is needed is quick internet and a reliable device to avail this form of media. The real question that arises next is, does its crossover traditional media?
When news started surfacing on the internet, the world began to think that was going to be the end of newspapers. Before we knew it, the two media channels co-existed and complemented each other within the integrated media system. Local newspapers adapted to the internet and got online to reach out to the newer generation of readers that now had internet access, without shutting down its paper variant.
OTT media has a similar story to tell but with a very different background. Traditional TV networks like Star, Sony, HBO soon realized the staggering rate at which the streaming subscription model was growing because of Netflix and decided to adapt to this model by launching their own streaming services. In this way, they retained their current userbase that prefers the traditional mode of consumption while catering to the newer generation of subscribers.
Original Content – OTT media caters to the taste of millennials and gen x with smart, original content that is exclusively available to these subscribers.
Multiple Device Streaming – The best part about OTT media is that it is mobile and accessible from a broad range of devices. Any user can access the same content from a mobile, laptop and even the TV screen.
OTT platforms in China
China has the highest number of OTT subscribers in the world and is forecasted to match Television digits in 2022. According to data from Tencent, IQiyi had 86M paid subscribers that grew to 100M by 2019, while Tencent Video grew to 89M paid subscribers by 2019. OTT platforms in China are moving towards spending more on content creation instead of traditional TV programming spends in China. Other OTT media platforms in China include WeChat (1M users), Weibo (480M users) and Youku Tudou (500M users) that are extensively utilized by brands to reach out to their audience on these platforms.
The marketers in the west have a lot to learn from Chinese subscription models right from their habituated consumption patterns to interaction with the content that the user is streaming. OTT media like podcasts, videos, shows and music are consumed on a part by part basis by the Chinese
The current subscription model that Netflix follows is subscription in bulk that a user will soon question over the years. The Chinese subscription model, on the other hand, will last the user a lifetime because of its ‘pay per piece’ system. In the long run, users are bound to experience ‘subscription fatigue’ with the onslaught of streaming services that have been springing up which is where the Chinese subscription model could be a probable solution.
We need to remember; the Media landscape has changed immensely all over the world and continues to evolve with newer mediums scratching the surface and testing the waters. It is important for marketers to keep a tab on the way consumers access this content and target them accordingly.