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Xiaomi bets big on video content, OTT battle to become fierce in India


Xiaomi made two announcements this month — the launch of largely-discussed Mi TV and hardly-covered partnership with Sourav Ganguly-backed short-format video content platform Flickstree.

The video content platform, which curates short videos from Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, multiple news platforms and many others, will power the Mi TV ecosystem.

The development, may appear to be small, hides the larger intention of Xiaomi in the content space. In April 2016, the Chinese company had led a $25 million investment in digital media firm Hungama Digital Media Entertainment.

Hugo Barra, the then vice-president of Xiaomi, had told as the company’s user base is growing in India, along with increasing 4G penetration, he expects to see more and more consumption of digital media through Xiaomi devices.

The company’s strategy and belief about the Indian market, in terms of content consumption, seems to fit best and also apply for the new partnership between Mi TV and Flickstree.

The Chinese phone maker has a larger goal for India. From multiple platforms, it has expressed its intention to replicate the Chinese model of business and emerged as the internet company in India.

Over-the-top (OTT) is one of the crucial segments, which will help the company to achieve its goal in India. The company made a $300 million investment in online video provider iQiyi in 2015. It has also bought a stake in China’s largest video streaming site Youku Tudou.

OTT market in India

Xiaomi is not the only platform, which has larger ambition, in this segment in India.

As per estimates, the market is currently valued at $280 million with nearly 100 million subscribers, and it is poised to grow at 35 per cent year-on-year.

Hotstar, Voot, Amazon Prime Video, Sony Liv, and Netflix are the top OTT platforms in India.

As of late December last year, Hotstar had monthly active subscribers base of 75 million, according to Counterpoint.

Voot was the second largest player with 22 million monthly subscribers base. Besides, Amazon, Sony Liv, and Netflix had registered monthly subscribers base of 11 million, 5 million and 5 million, respectively.

Last year, US-based video streaming platforms, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix had extended their battle to the Indian market. They made an announcement to set aside Rs 2,000 crore each for acquiring content to attract subscribers.

Besides, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix have devised another strategy for the Indian market — generating local content.

Amazon has stated that it would invest $300 million for creating original content (in Hindi and regional languages) for Indian users. The firm has also tied up with local telcos to consolidate its position in the country. Amazon has tied up rapidly with production houses such as Yash Raj Films, Dharma Productions, T-Series, Shree Venkatesh Films, Everest Entertainment, V Creations and Dream Warrior Pictures.

Its main rival in India, Netflix has also tied-up with Shah Rukh Khan’s owned Red Chillies Entertainment to bring a multi-lingual series.

Soon, another Internet conglomerate, Alibaba is aiming to join the battle with the launch of an over-the-top (OTT) video service in India in the next three months. The OTT service is likely to be launched in collaboration with its Indian portfolio Paytm and Alibaba’s media and entertainment unit UCWeb.

Reliance Industries is another player which is showing a keen interest in the segment. Of late, Reliance has been aggressively investing into the creation of original content.

In July 2017, it invested Rs 413.28 crore to buy out about 25 per cent stake in Balaji Telefilms’ subscription-based video streaming service ALT Balaji. Last month, ALT Balaji entered into a strategic partnership with Reliance Jio to offer original content on RJio’s digital platforms.

This week, it invested $48.75 million in film and entertainment company Eros International for 5 per cent stake. Through the investment, RIL will aim for generating original content for web and mobile audience.

Last month, Times Internet acquired a majority stake in Gangnam (Seoul)-based MX Player for about $200 million. The investment will help Times Internet to launch its over-the-top (OTT) video service, which is slated to make debut in coming months.

The sudden growth in the market has become a cause of concern for direct-to-home (DTH) platforms and cable operators. They have expressed concern that certain broadcasters are airing same content through internet channels as through direct-to-home (DTH) platforms and cable operators.

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