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How valid is Redseer’s Monthly Active Users report on content platforms?

In the last decade or so, India has gone under transformation in how consumers watch videos and listen to music. From the days of social viewing of television to highly personalised mobile-based consumption, the content industry has come a long way in the country.

The appetite for entertainment and choice-based content continue to rise as more content based platforms including global ones such as Netflix, Amazon and Spotify have joined the bandwagon. The number of content platforms including News Aggregators and Shortform Content, OTT Video and Music streaming players grew manyfold in the last couple of years.

To assess the growth of these content platforms, decade-old Bengaluru-based research and consulting firm RedSeer Consulting, came out with a report revealing the Monthly Active User (MAU) numbers for 15 content players last week.

Before we go further to the numbers provided by the report, lets first get to know what MAU is and its significance. MAU is the number of unique users, who have performed some action in an app within the last month.

Generally, it is defined as the number of unique users who open the app within a 30-day period. It is indicative of users stickiness on the platform and that is one of the reasons why investors look at startups MAU and DAU ratio to assess growth rate.

And that is why the numbers assume significance for the startups’ ecosystem. And the reason why we are talking about the findings of the report.

Redseer, in its research, showed some of the startling numbers related to content platforms. According to its findings, Star-owned Hotstar is the largest content players with 300 million MAU, followed by Dailyhunt and MX Players, both had 190 million and 176 million MAUs respectively.

This means close to 666 million people alone in India opened these three platforms last month. Whereas global premium content firms Netflix and Amazon Prime had 11 million and 13 million MAUs. Further, the report showed audio streaming platforms Gaana (110 Mn) and Saavn (92 Mn).

Taking one platform at a time. Hotstar is said to be a leader in OTT space with about 40 percent market share.

It offers free video streaming along with premium content. While its free content includes some dramas and old movies, it has put behind most of the exclusive right content such as Cricket world cup, Tennis Wimbledon among many others, behind paywalls. This is where it makes paying member out of sports lovers. But this appeal is largely limited to only sports.

The main revenue source for Hotstar is advertisement. It will be interesting to know the platform’s MAU in off sports season or without sports. When it comes to exclusive series it is still well behind Netflix and Amazon Prime, who largely offer only paid content though with the free monthly trial.

Hotstar premium subscribers are estimated to be less than 2-3 percent of its total subscribers.

“The number is highly overestimated. What it says is, Hotstar is second most popular after WhatsApp, which is a free messaging app. It is hard to buy this claim,” said Vivek Lath, Managing Director at GoQuest Media Ventures.

The report mentioned that high activities on the platform was largely due to cricket, being watched, played and talked about. But mysteriously the report misses out Cricbuzz, which claimed to host over 124 million users during the last year world cup.

Blume Venture’s Director Sajith Pai and Times Internet Vice-Chairman Satyan Gajwani both expressed their disagreement over the Redseer’s unexplained numbers.

Similarly, doubts were thrown by industry observers about other content platforms including Dialyhunt, MX Players, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.

“Redseer must explain what metrics they have used to choose as well as come down to this table with the mentioned figure,” added Lath.

Entrackr detailed queries to Redseer on Monday in regard to the report did not elicit any response.

Maybe, in the digital age when information and data are available at a mere press of our fingertips, it would be better for the whole of the ecosystem to first cross-check and question the unexplained or biased part of any study. Before hailing it and circulating in peer groups and social sites as truth.

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