Consumers have taken control of the video viewing experience

Online Video Limelight

With 4G networks starting to come into the country, there’s an explosion of video traffic and a growing demand for content in India. The launch of 4G services are reducing data costs and increasing usage of video on demand. But one trend that stands out above the rest is the big increase in online video viewing.

In fact, according to DNA, a recent CISCO Visual Networking Index Report (VNI) predicts that online video traffic will contribute approximately 65 percent of all IP traffic in India by 2018. About 70 billion minutes of video content will be viewed across India per month.

It’s clear that watching video online is here for good. Why stay home to watch your favorite TV show when some broadcaster decided you should be watching it, when you can watch what you want, whenever you want, wherever you happen to be? The old business model of forcing people to watch what they broadcast when they broadcast it has changed forever. Consumers have taken control, and that has traditional broadcasters worried.

How did we get here?

In the early 1990’s, computers and digital technology came along and changed the way video content was created. It became easy and cost-effective to convert analog video into digital files that could be stored on a computer disk for non-linear editing. However, the distribution of this digitally produced content was fundamentally the same. There were more cable TV channels broadcasting content, but the stations controlled what could be watched and when it could be watched. Viewers understood that was the way the world worked.

Then broadband speeds into homes started to increase. Viewers could get updated information about breaking news events without waiting for the evening newscast. The Internet became a legitimate place people could go to watch video, even if the experience was often frustrating and the content was limited.

As more diverse content became available online, younger viewers then began to search out videos, even if the production quality was poor and the video would stutter and re-buffer. These younger viewers controlled what they would watch and when they would watch it, which was the way their world worked. As a result, the Internet quickly became a viable way for content distributors to make videos available to viewers.

Segue to today. While a majority of people in India still use computers to watch online videos, more and more are using smartphones to watch content on the go – matching a trend worldwide. According to a Deloitte report, smartphone devices in use across the globe grew at a CAGR of 17 percent as compared to 9.5 percent growth in all mobile devices. Smartphones in use crossed the 2 billion mark in 2014 and are expected to reach 4.6 billion by 2019.

In addition, with more people “cutting the cord,” the delivery of audio and video content over-the-top (OTT) has also entered the mainstream. According to Media Partner Asia, there are more than 66 million active OTT users across India today, and the number of video subscribers is projected to grow to 105 million by 2020.

The challenge for content distributors today is to meet high expectations. The quality of the online viewing experience has grown to a point nearly matching expectations from broadcast television. In the early days of online viewing, consumers learned to accept the fact that picture quality wouldn’t be as good as traditional broadcast television and the video would often stutter or re-buffer.

What does this all mean? 

Consumers in India and worldwide are taking control of the video viewing experience.  They want to choose what to watch and when to watch it.  They’ll pay to access the content they want online, but they expect it to be delivered flawlessly on any device. Content distributors need to ensure the quality of the viewing experience in order to satisfy consumer demand and maximize revenue.

Many content providers in India rely on a content delivery network (CDN) to meet global viewer expectations. CDNs offer specialized services, so it’s important that content distributors carefully map their requirements against their business objectives and audience expectations.

It’s clear that the content distribution process has undergone fundamental changes over the last few years. The traditional broadcast television business model is imploding, but CDNs can help content distributors thrive in this brave new world.

This article has been authored by Binu Balan, Country Manager India at Limelight Networks

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