India is the world’s second largest country, with a population of over 1.38 billion people. That is why the country’s rapid adoption of mobile technology has been of great interest to companies who are producing and distributing video content.
As in much of the developing world, video in India is primarily watched on mobile devices due to their widespread availability and relative affordability.
It’s why Netflix has already introduced a discounted mobile-only plan for the Indian market, in an attempt to wrest some market share away from its rival HotStar, whose lower priced (albeit ad supported) service still controls the lion’s share of the market.
Streaming Still Has Issues
While mobile video is popular in India, it is still not seamless, as witnessed by Penthera’s recent study on the Indian mobile streaming market.
The study found that while 96% of respondents reported that they regularly streamed video content on their mobile devices (70% of them daily), an overwhelming majority (93%) reported having issues with streaming (the report politely calls those “streaming frustrations.”)
Among those streaming frustrations were having the video take too long to start playing (56%) as well as the dreaded re-buffering (49%).
These frustrations with streaming over available mobile connections have led a sizable number of respondents to appreciate the wisdom of downloading shows they may want to watch at a later date.
The Beauty Of Downloading
Downloading is a great solution for mobile streaming issues in any country, as it allows the user to completely avoid any worries about streaming speeds, insecure connections, and dropped signals on public wifi networks.
While downloading was once limited to ad-free services, new technology from Penthera has made ad-supported downloading possible as well: the original ads are downloaded with the show the first time, and then every time the phone is online, it checks to see if the ads are up to date and updates them automatically. Given the frequency with which most people use their phones, out of date ads should not prove to be an issue.
Ad Supported Downloading
This is a key feature for a market like India, where most programming is ad supported as a way to keep costs down—as noted earlier, ad supported HotStar is the most popular service in the country with over 300 million subscribers, a huge margin when compared to Amazon’s 13 million subscribers and Netflix’s 11 million.
That’s why it’s not surprising that 91% of the users surveyed said they would use ad supported downloading if it were available, or that 61% said they would be more likely to sign up for a service that offered free video downloading.
The Value Of Downloading
At some point in the future we will have a world with omnipresent 5G mobile wireless signals that work seamlessly, much the way electricity works today.
Unfortunately, that day is a long way off.
In the interim, we have a world with very imperfect wireless signals that often have trouble handling text messages (as anyone who was recently at CES can attest) let alone video. Thus downloading will remain a popular and necessary feature, and not just for people like me who frequently find themselves on airplanes where video streaming is verboten.
Rather than limit downloading to those who can afford ad free subscription services, ad supported downloads can open up downloading to many more people, especially in countries like India, where ad supported content is far more widespread and economically necessary than it is in the U.S.
By adding that functionality to their offering, distributors can give themselves a strong advantage over their competitors, with an easily understood feature that has been proven to be very popular with their customer base.