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OTT Streaming & The Reality In Pakistan

The reality in Pakistan for OTT Streaming platforms largely revolves around industry stakeholders. Such as: Connectivity is a key barrier to widespread OTT adoption. Until smartphones become more prolific. Data becomes more affordable. Online Payment becomes a norm The content becomes less regulated.

The OTT Streaming platform trends are not a reality just yet in Pakistan. Probably won’t be unless smartphones and the internet become accessible for the masses. Although digital video consumption is shifting from offline to online. Pakistan is still in the very early stages of development.

What is OTT Streaming?

OTT stands for ‘over-the-top,’ which in media terms refers to distribution over the internet. We are living in times where even broadcast TV is likely to be Streaming via OTT. The industry is growing with audio and video live streaming becoming more robust. Meanwhile, innovating on offerings from leading brands in the business based on the behavior of consumers 

Streaming & Pakistan

When it comes to streaming local Pakistani content ,  YouTube is the king .  Head over to the Think with Google Infographic Youtube Pakistan’s Most Popular Online Video Platform. Streaming sports and tv series (dramas) are mainstream activities.

OTT & STREAMING PAKISTAN

Homegrown OTT Streaming apps for premium content are still in their infancy are far below the top of mind radar.

In India, consumers are increasingly turning to on-demand service providers. Hotstar Disney is leading by far and followed by Jio TV.Netflix subscriptions are still not anywhere in the top 3. Pakistan is nowhere near the radar of most OTT brands. Several regional OTT platforms were launched or announcements to this effect were made in 2020 across India. The list includes Aha (Telugu), CityShor TV (Gujarati), Planet Marathi and Letsflix (both Marathi) and Talkies (Tulu, Konkani and Kannada). Some stream curated content, such as short films, web series, original music productions besides showing movies.

Pakistan is a different ball game altogether.According to Dawn By 2020, Netflix made 1.2 billion rupees (click to read full report) in revenue from Pakistani subscribers in its sixth operating year. Perhaps true but sounds far fetched when compared to the market conditions However, most Pakistanis do not have credits cards  and online payment acceptable to pay for the subscription service. A reason why the streaming giant is not acquiring original Pakistani content.  Besides bollywood with all its production assets being next door.

Till now, Netflix has ruled the premium streaming market with a revenue reportedly over . The recent entry of Spotify in the audio and music streaming app space in Pakistan speaks volumes. This followed by UrduFlix Pakistan’s first urdu language OTT  Streaming platform .

Content

Several OTT Streaming platforms have yet to make their way into Pakistan. 

When it comes to Amazon Prime, Pakistani content that breaks into the platform cannot even be watched in the home country.

Similarly, India’s Zee5 began to stream web series created by Pakistani production teams including Churails, and Aik Jhooti Love Story for regional and global viewership. This is likely to be followed by the already commissioned Dhoop Ki Dewar.

Therefore Content Made in Pakistan will have to face regulations followed by controversy. In the case of ‘Churails,’ the regulator stepping in and terminating online subscription of payment to Zee5 is worrisome for international players. This order is based on the business flowing to a digital platform owned by an Indian company. 

OTT

Meanwhile, “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight, and Safeguards) Rules 2020,” under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016. 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.

Therefore, the international OTT Streaming players would shift their investments to other markets in Asia.

Connectivity & Pakistan

Despite the government’s promotion of the internet and expansion of universal internet access throughout the nation over the past decade, internet penetration has remained relatively low in global terms.
  • There were 173.2 million mobile connections in Pakistan in January 2021.
  • There were 61.34 million internet users in Pakistan in January 2021.
  • The number of internet users in Pakistan increased by 11 million (+21%) between 2020 and 2021.
  • Internet penetration in Pakistan stood at 27.5% in January 2021.

The ball seems to be in the court of mobile operators:

  • Either through significant cuts in mobile data pricing, 
  • the launch of affordable unlimited bundles, 
  • or zero-rating partnerships with OTT providers. 

Telcos are holding the key to the future of OTT viewership gaining critical mass.

OTT
Mobile video experience score in the Asia Pacific region 2020

Conclusion

In conclusion, the reality in Pakistan for OTT Streaming platforms largely revolves around industry stakeholders. Such as:

📲 Connectivity is a key barrier to widespread OTT adoption.

📲 Until smartphones become more prolific. 📲 Data becomes more affordable. 📲 Online Payment becomes a norm 📲 The content becomes less regulated.

 Freemium streaming model rules so far. Hence, not translating into growth as subscription payment revenue for industry players. 

This blog is written with inputs from Asim Qureshi, Founder Starring Brands. One of Pakistan’s leading media and entertainment marketing company. Asim is a former CEO at 2 of the leading media organizations in Pakistan i.e ARY & Jang Group.

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M.A.D
Blogger| Digital & Streaming Junkie | Studying & Freelancing in Frankfurt| U/X Designer
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Sarah Raza
Sarah Raza

Informative! Thats really sad situation for Pakistan in 2020 and one hopes it changes soon.

Jose Roberto
Jose Roberto

Hey share some data on music streaming of Pakistan.

Abraham Hoffman
Abraham Hoffman

I agree with your analysis. Teleco’s will have to lead here more aggressively backed by govt. support and ease of business.

Justin Wild
Justin Wild

Disney + ROCKS.. do you guys have it?

Daniel Morgan
Daniel Morgan

I think a lot will depend on OTT platforms subscription pricing in the times to come. This is where teleco’s can play a huge role in making them more accessible. Your assessment seems fine.

Rudranayaran Kamila
Rudranayaran Kamila

Good Read..knowledgable and simply explained. Thanks for sharing.

Suresh Bhadana
Suresh Bhadana

A real cause of concern for Pakistan “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.”

Prabat Kumar
Prabat Kumar

Excellent article Sir

Imran Khan
Imran Khan

PTI Govt is leading the way on digital. Soon Pakistan will have its own Netflix type OTT

Sunil Achari
Sunil Achari

Thanks once again for sharing best practices.

Arun Kumar
Arun Kumar

Wise assessment.

Oliver Hoffman
Oliver Hoffman

Pakistan should solve all these issues you mentioned first.

Brand Cinema
Brand Cinema

They should not ban access to OTT platforms and content being produced for it. Pakistan has a long way to go on this journey.

Abraham Hoffman
Abraham Hoffman

Pakistan must go 5G and scale to help streaming become popular.

Noa Hadad
Noa Hadad

Actually OTT platforms are a different ball game which got a boost thanks to the pandemic. Most are still in the red zone financially. While the big players are into building future with their content library. Pakistan should also develop their own.

Rona Cohen
Rona Cohen

Thanks for writing this. Its quite valuable in understanding the Pakistani market for OTT. Hope things works out for you.

M. Abdullah
M. Abdullah

Thanks Guys for liking and sharing your feedback

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