It was always going to be a David Vs Goliath. When Netflix came to India, it was a unique service that few required, many demanded but very few were ready to pay for. Then, when Amazon Prime came to India, it came piggybacking on the Amazon brand, which essentially allowed audiences to access content for 1/12th of the price that Netflix offered. Sections of the audiences who weren’t very discerning about what they watched – if they watched something – lapped up the service and were introduced to the world of streaming.
Soon, news about Indian streaming services amping their services made the rounds. The first to launch was ALTBalaji, the streaming platform under the Balaji aegis. Star TV came up with their online platform Hotstar. Then was the time of Hooq, Voot, and so many more. Vikram Bhatt launched his own streaming platform, VB on the Web. It was hard to believe, a director launching his streaming platform – that was the power of digital and the seduction of audience acceptance and approval. Coming into the fray, Bollywood Hungama launched their streaming channel with not one but two web series.
Also Watch: Exclusive Interview with Vikram Bhatt
All this might seem stupendous, but at the end of this story, there’s a dampener. Even after two years, none of the home-grown channels have a big name that they can ride on. Netflix has its Marvel, Amazon has its countless web series, but no Indian streaming channel has a big name on their rolls.
The symptoms that people are wondering where the money is are already visible. Popular Indian streaming platforms are tying up with mobile users, a captive audience that’s hungry for content. This is in tandem with the subscription model that they have. Then again, some streaming channels have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. At least twice, a popular streaming service has been found streaming their tv series on their online platform. This hints at the fact that media companies that have their streaming platforms don’t really differentiate between streaming audiences and the terrestrial programming ones – how long that will work is anyone’s guess.
What some home-grown streaming channels are doing is more questionable. Instead of investing in local content and local stories, they’re buying streaming rights for successful, well known series from the west. This started with Hotstar gaining the rights for Game of Thrones. Hilariously, before Hotstar gained the rights for the series, there was no legal way to view GoT in India. So, anyone fawning over GoT in India before that year is you-know-what.
The game doesn’t seem to be over yet, but it at least looks like Indian streaming channel are running on steam. For example, Hotstar is now paying attention to sports – specifically cricket – so they don’t have to compete with the high concept series that are streaming on the foreign streaming platforms.
Also Read: Hotstar Announces Only Sports Plan
What’ surprising is that even home-grown content creators aren’t ganging up to give content to streaming platforms. Content creators like TVF, Screenpatti, AIB and others still consider YouTube to be their home. Is this because streaming platforms aren’t very generous with their money? That. We’ll never know.