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In this guest post, Nickhil Jakatdar, founder and CEO of Vuclip explores answers to some fundamental hypotheses around video consumption data for MVOD services in India.

Much like companies in the business of online search and social media, companies running OTT mobile video on demand (MVOD) platforms are also data intensive businesses. We sit on a stock pile of data ranging from viewership preferences of subscribers, indicative of the content that is winning their eyeballs, the device types, operating systems and the network that they use to access the content apart from their preferred modes of payment to list out a few.

In this increasingly cluttered mobile video streaming business, it is a combination of high quality content catering to the user preferences and the leveraging of technology promising an unparalleled viewer experience that makes you win the loyalty of viewers and conterminously, market share.

Insights that can be drawn from video consumption data play a crucial role on delivering quality on both the content curation and the streaming technology fronts. Add to this, it would also be interesting to see how video viewership data can help marketers to tap into MVOD platforms as a marketing channel for brands, which this article would delve into.

The Macro Picture on Consumer data
Nearly 83% of video consumption in India takes place on Android powered smartphones while Symbian is still in vogue with a share of 13%. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report (June 2015), the number of smartphone subscriptions in India is expected to reach over 750 million by 2020, up from 130 million in 2014 aided by the proliferation of sub $100 Android devices and by a swell of new subscribers. This will result in a monthly mobile data consumption increase of 18-fold by 2020, primarily aided by mobile videos. Video will account for 66% of mobile data traffic by the year 2019, with 89% of mobile data traffic being ‘smart’ traffic predicts the CISCO Visual Network Index. This underscores the business rationale for MVOD platforms as seen by international players making a beeline for India.

Globally we see 41% of mobile video viewers on Android prefer to stream, 19% watch downloaded videos, and 40% use both methods. While streaming pips video downloads, what we can read into this is the interplay of data costs and limited storage space on the low cost smartphones, determining consumer behavior in India. From a data standpoint, it also means that each smartphone in itself becomes a data generator; thereby posing the imminent challenge of personalization.

Data to help overcome the ‘Personalization’ challenge
The mobile phone is a personal device and that’s why we all love the phones we own. With the prevalence of smartphones, the degree of personalization has indeed gone up by a couple of notches. As users, we can now optimize the kind of news stories we read on our devices based on our interests. The search results generated for a keyword on one device being substantially different from those on another person’s device is another example of personalization. The question is how MVOD platforms can create competitive advantage by leveraging video consumption insights and delivering the benefits of personalization to its viewers.

If Content is King, Data analytics is the Ace
Monthly, quarterly or annual surveys of mobile video subscribers are a way to gauge their engagement level with the MVOD service. At Vuclip, we have been coming up with the Global Video Insights (GVI) Reports on a regular basis which have been immensely beneficial for us in terms of calibrating our business strategy based on video consumption trends in India and other emerging markets of the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa.

Let’s consider some of the significant findings of our survey over the last 6 quarters and summarize the impact on the MVOD business in India:

– Though movies and television shows account for around 80% of the International content consumed on the Vuclip platform, 78% of viewers in India have shown preference to watching content in their native language.

– Hindi videos constitute over 40% of viewership traffic in India. Videos in languages such as Tamil (8%), Telugu (6%), Bengali (4%) and Marathi (4%) are also seeing increased traction.

This underlines the importance of having a diversified content catalogue which in turn calls for partnerships with vernacular content providers to cater to the choice of the audience an MVOD platform services. If there is demand for entertainment in languages like Bhojpuri, Assamese or even Pashto, survey data can help in identifying this need and serving them to increase adoption of the platform.

While there is a growing traction for long form content, it is largely in metros and tier 1 cities while short form content such as 1 – 5 min. clips are seen being consumed in tier 2 and tier 3 towns. Knowing this helps with content curation and devising geo specific strategies.

Gauging what genre appeals to viewers, MVOD platforms can also consider producing original content to sustain their viewer interest. Also, based on past viewership patterns, suggestions on the kind of content to watch can become more customized.

Analyzing data consumption during network inconsistency
67% viewers prefer mobile as their primary method for consuming information and entertainment, while only 20% of men and 29% of women prefer their televisions. 85% of men and 75% of women said they will increase the amount of time they watch videos on mobile in the future.

73% of men and 61% of women said it is important that the video not buffer while they are watching it; with 54% of men and 49% of women saying they would pay to download videos just to avoid buffering.

Video consumption over mobile networks is data heavy. While the mobile is the preferred or the only screen of choice for a majority of Indians, patchy networks hinder the video viewing experience. Data analytics helps complement transcoding technology adopted by MVOD platforms in Video Optimization.

Based on the quality of network connectivity and the quantum of data (based on video quality- HD or non HD) that a video would take to stream, an MVOD platform can suggest an alternate time for video viewing when the network load is lower or even have the option of watching the content offline later by downloading the video file now.

Data Analytics on MVOD platforms for Marketing Efficiency
‘Going Digital’ is the mantra that a majority of marketers have successfully adopted through channels like social media as well as through search engine optimized content marketing techniques to go fishing wherever there is the shoal! MVOD platforms are seen as the next tidal wave that marketers can ride on, to narrate their brand stories to a captive audience much like ‘On-Screen’ Theatre marketing.

Data analytics based on viewership trends can help in targeting viewers with contextual ads through content filtration so that they are in line with their interests. Non-intrusive ads in the form of AD as content, contextual pre and mid rolls are potential solutions.

Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Katrina Kaif feature in the Top Searches in India. Amala Paul and Shiv Rajkumar among top the searched celebrities in Kerala and Karnataka respectively.

MVOD platforms help brands to target prospective customers based on demographics, geography and viewer preferences. Based on insights such as these, brands can know which celebrity is most viewed in a specific region and hence can take well informed decisions of who to rope in as a brand endorser.

Determining an MVOD’s revenue model
The biggest insight that viewers have given MVOD platforms like ours is in terms of calibrating the revenue model. “Are Indians willing to pay for video content, which otherwise could be downloaded from a torrent website?” While the hypothesis says ‘No way!’, our experimentation of changing the proportion of free to subscription based content in relation to viewership data has yielded a result that is quite the reverse. Also, payments via carrier billing works better for Indians than payments via credit or debit cards. All in all, the more a business is able to comprehend data and make it work for the benefit of its stakeholders, the more they ‘delight’ the consumer. Time to now enjoy Akshay Kumar’s ‘Gabbar is Back’ with a box of popcorn.