The OTT Streaming platform trends are not a reality just yet in Pakistan. Probably won’t be unless smartphones and the internet make streaming on-demand valuable for the masses. Therefore, Telcos are holding the key to the future of OTT viewership gaining critical mass.
What is OTT Streaming?
To elaborate on our understanding of OTT (over-the-top) media distribution. It refers to the delivery of audio, video, and other media content over the internet directly to users. Bypassing traditional broadcast or cable TV platforms. The growth of OTT has been significant in recent years, with many consumers shifting from traditional TV to streaming services.
The rise of OTT has revolutionized the media industry by providing greater flexibility and choice to consumers. It allows them to access a wide range of content anytime, anywhere, on various devices such as smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and streaming media players. Popular OTT platforms include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, and many others.
The industry has indeed seen significant growth in both audio and video live streaming. Live streaming enables real-time broadcasting of events, performances, conferences, and other activities to audiences around the world. It has gained popularity due to its immediacy, interactivity, and the ability to engage with viewers in real time through features like live chat.
Leading brands in the OTT business continually innovate their offerings based on consumer behavior. They analyze user data, preferences, and viewing habits to provide personalized recommendations, improve content discovery, and enhance the overall user experience. These platforms invest in original content production, exclusive partnerships, and technological advancements to stay competitive in the evolving media landscape.
As the OTT industry continues to grow, we can expect further advancements in streaming technologies, improved content quality, and increased competition among streaming service providers. This ongoing evolution is driven by the changing behaviors and preferences of consumers, who increasingly prefer the convenience, flexibility, and personalized experiences offered by OTT platforms.
LIVE VIDEO EXPERIENCE
This is also reflected in the LIVE video experience score across the World 2023 report by OPEN SIGNAL.
Worldwide, Indonesian users observe the biggest leap in their experience with 4G and 5G with an improvement of 32.7% for Live Video Experience. The Philippines comes second, with an uplift of 28.1%.
The Case For 5G
The arrival of 5G technology offers significant advantages over 4G, particularly when it comes to video streaming. Here are some key points about how 5G enhances video streaming compared to 4G:
- Faster speeds: 5G provides considerably faster download and upload speeds compared to 4G. This means that videos can be streamed in higher resolutions, such as 4K and even 8K, without buffering or long loading times. Users can enjoy smoother and more immersive video streaming experiences.
- Lower latency: Latency refers to the delay between sending a command and receiving a response. 5G networks have significantly lower latency compared to 4G, which results in near-real-time interactions. For video streaming, this means that there will be minimal lag or delay when starting playback, seeking through the video, or interacting with live streaming content.
- Increased network capacity: 5G networks offer much higher network capacity compared to 4G. This means that more users can simultaneously stream videos without degrading the overall quality. In crowded areas or during peak usage times, 5G networks can handle a larger number of video streams without experiencing significant slowdowns or disruptions.
- Enhanced stability: The increased network capacity and improved efficiency of 5G networks contribute to a more stable video streaming experience. Users are less likely to encounter buffering, stuttering, or interruptions, even when multiple users are simultaneously streaming high-quality videos.
- Improved overall experience: With 5G, the overall video streaming experience becomes more seamless, enjoyable, and reliable. Users can stream high-quality content on various devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and other connected devices, without compromising on performance.
THE REALITY FOR PAKISTAN
While Pakistan may currently rank low on live video experience and streaming quality, the deployment of 5G technology has the potential to address these shortcomings. By significantly enhance video streaming experiences in the country. It can offer faster speeds, lower latency, increased network capacity, and improved stability. Allowing users to enjoy high-quality video streaming without interruptions.
Pakistan is still in the early stages of adopting OTT and streaming services compared to some other countries. While digital video consumption is indeed shifting from offline to online globally, the pace of adoption can vary. From country to country based on various factors such as infrastructure development, internet penetration, affordability of devices, and local market dynamics.
In the case of Pakistan, there are a few reasons why the adoption of OTT and streaming services may still be in its early stages:
- Internet infrastructure: The availability and quality of internet infrastructure play a crucial role in the adoption of streaming services. While internet access has been expanding in Pakistan, there may still be challenges related to connectivity, network speeds, and coverage in certain areas, which can impact the widespread adoption of OTT services.
- Smartphone penetration: Access to affordable smartphones is a key factor in driving OTT adoption. As mobile devices are often the primary means of accessing streaming platforms. While smartphone penetration is increasing in Pakistan, it may still be lower compared to some other countries. Hence, affecting the uptake of streaming services.
- Content localization: The availability of localized and region-specific content can be a significant driver for OTT adoption. In some cases, the content offerings on OTT platforms may not be as extensive or tailored to the preferences of the Pakistani audience. Therefore, impacting adoption rates.
- Payment options: Seamless and convenient payment options are essential for subscription-based OTT services. In certain markets, including Pakistan, access to digital payment solutions and credit/debit cards may be limited. As a result, can pose challenges for consumers looking to subscribe to streaming services.
However, it’s worth noting that the adoption of OTT and streaming services is a dynamic and evolving process. As internet infrastructure improves, smartphone penetration increases, and localized content offerings expand. The adoption of OTT platforms is likely to grow in Pakistan. Additionally, as more global and regional streaming services recognize the potential of the Pakistani market. They may invest in expanding their services and offerings to cater to the local audience, further driving the adoption of streaming services in the country.
Netflix & Pakistan
An interesting observation about the state of OTT streaming platforms and the challenges they face in Pakistan.
Firstly, the revenue figure mentioned in a news article, PKR 1 Billion, suggests that Netflix had a successful 2020 in terms of generating revenue from Pakistan. However, Netflix operates globally, and its revenue from a specific country or region may not significantly impact its overall revenue. While the pandemic may have led to increased viewership on Netflix in Pakistan, the global nature of the platform means that its content acquisition decisions are not solely based on the performance of a single market.
The proximity of India and Bollywood producers to Pakistan could be another reason why Pakistani content may not be a priority for streaming giants. India has a well-established and thriving film industry. Producing a vast amount of content, including movies and TV shows. Bollywood’s popularity extends beyond India, making it a lucrative market for streaming platforms. The availability of Indian content, which often caters to the preferences of Pakistani viewers as well, might reduce the demand for original Pakistani content.
In addition to the challenges in content acquisition, the telecom sector in Pakistan faces its own set of obstacles. While 4G technology has improved internet access and mobile data speeds, challenges such as high mobile data pricing and taxation can hinder the growth of OTT streaming platforms. These factors can make streaming services less affordable for a significant portion of the population, limiting the potential customer base.
Moreover, the absence of a freemium streaming model, which has been successful for YouTube, further contributes to the reliance on paid subscriptions for revenue generation. Freemium models allow users to access basic content for free while offering premium features or additional content for a fee. Without such models, the growth of paid subscriptions and the generation of globally acceptable revenue may face limitations.
Overall, the Pakistani OTT streaming market is influenced by various factors. This includes preferences of viewers, the availability of content from neighboring countries, challenges in the telecom sector, and the absence of certain revenue models. These factors shape the dynamics between OTT platforms, content producers, and viewers. Therefore, impacting the growth and acquisition of original Pakistani content by streaming giants.
How Much Does Netflix Pay For Movies, Shows? (Click To Read More)
Content and Regulation
The situation highlights some of the challenges and regulatory issues faced by international players in the Pakistani streaming market. The decision by India’s Zee5 to stream web series created by Pakistani production teams, such as “Churails” and “Aik Jhooti Love Story.” Initially seemed promising for cross-border collaboration and content sharing. However, the regulatory authorities in Pakistan intervened and terminated the online subscription payment to Zee5. This action was taken because the business was flowing to a digital platform owned by an Indian company.
In addition, the “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight, and Safeguards) Rules 2020.” Established under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016. Having raised concerns among global tech companies. The Asia Internet Coalition, a group representing these companies, has warned that these rules would make it “extremely difficult” for them. In order to make their services available to Pakistani users. This difficulty in complying with the regulations may be a critical reason why streaming giants are hesitant to acquire original Pakistani content. Although Pakistani cinema as a benchmark has proved to be promising.
The Asia Internet Coalition is a group of global tech companies. Warning that, under these rules it would be “extremely difficult” for them, to make their services available for Pakistani users.
As a result of these regulatory challenges, it is possible that international OTT streaming players may shift their investments to other markets in Asia. Specially where the regulatory environment is more favorable. This could impact the availability of international streaming services in Pakistan. Moreover, limiting the opportunities for Pakistani content to reach a global audience through these platforms.
OTT , Spotify & Pakistan
The entry of Spotify in the audio music streaming app space in Pakistan speaks volumes for the market. However, the numbers are as “Dismal” as being reported on the app itself. The likes itself were ranging from 18,000-20,000 in its first year for one of its own most popular playlists from Pakistan. Whereas, Spotify Wrapped although marketed aggressively in 2022, engagement is yet to create a major impact in Pakistan.
Moreover, Pakistani artists have struggled to monetize their work. Just like (some) mainstream global artists who have spoken about their own dissatisfaction with monetization on Spotify. The music streaming platform has faced quite a lot of heat from listeners and artists due to controversies. As a result losing its share price by 25%.
You can read more music streaming market boom 2020 on our blog linked below.
*Starting year end 2020. This blog is updated (periodically) with inputs from ASIM QURESHI.
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