Most Indians, around 80%, prefer some form of advertising to completely paid content, according to a new report by Magnite, an independent sell-side ad platform. This is despite the growth of subscription-based video streaming models. The disposition for ad-supported streaming is strong, with free or some ad-supported content preferred by four in five streamers rather than paying for an ad-free experience (one in five), the report said.
The average number of services used by streamers in India is five. Of the five, three are free ad- supported, two are ad-supported paid subscription services, and one is an ad-free paid subscription. Among those users who expect to add a new streaming service, 60% intend to add an ad-supported option. On the other hand, 43% of streamers reported cancelling a subscription in the past 12 months. The most common reasons driving subscription churn were having too many services or the service not offering good value for money.
Magnite commissioned Dynata, a research partner, to conduct a survey of 2,500 viewers aged 16-74 in India in September, who said that they watched a minimum of seven hours of any TV or video content a week, with at least five hours per week of streaming video content.
“Free-to-air television has been a staple part of consumption patterns in India and people are generally accepting of ads. What is important is that this value exchange happens with conditions, and the timing and the number of ads per hour is important,” said Gavin Buxton, managing director, Asia at Magnite. A lot of global streaming providers are opening up to the possibility of advertising along with paid subscription models, Buxton added.
Earlier this month, American streaming service Netflix introduced a lower-priced, advertising-supported plan called Basic with Ads in the US for $6.99. This tier is also available in 11 other countries: Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Spain. However, India is not on the list of countries where the plan will be rolled out anytime soon.
In India, streamers are young, educated and tech-savvy, and live in urban areas in households with children, the report said. Almost three-quarters of the Indian adult population with Internet access living in urban areas stream video content. Streamers spend more time streaming video content than they do watching video content on social media, user-generated content, like on YouTube, and traditional TV. 72% of people who live in urban areas with Internet access are streamers (aged 16-74). 52% of them are male and 47% female, while 45% live in tier-one cities, 27% in tier-two cities, 8% in tier-three and 21% in tier-four. 66 hours is the total amount of time streamers spend watching video content per week.
Mobile is the device of choice for Indian streamers, with 9 in 10 using a mobile device to watch video content. With mobile demanding the majority of streamers’ time, 88% of viewers reported a positive viewing experience on smartphones, comparable to 87% that reported a positive viewing experience on TV screens. 75% are streaming more content than one year ago. Most watched genres include comedy (48%), suspense (34%), action (34%), romance (31%), science fiction (24%) and so on.
With streamers only willing to pay for an average of 2.2 subscriptions, corresponding to approximately Rs 281 per service, there is no indication that streamers are prepared to pay for more services in the future, the report says. With subscription fatigue kicking in and economic factors squeezing wallets, new SVoD services may only be added at the expense of existing ones, making more space for AVoD viewership to accelerate further. In fact, streaming platforms deliver better advertising engagement than other media with streamers reporting that they are more attentive to ads on streaming platforms (64%) than they are to video ads across social channels (18%) or websites (18%).