OTT Streaming & The Reality In Pakistan

OTT

The OTT Streaming platform trends are not a reality just yet in Pakistan. Probably won’t be unless smartphones and the internet make streaming affordable for the masses. This is also reflected in the mobile video experience score across Asia Pacific region 2020 report. A year most conducive for online video consumption post the pandemic.

OTT

📱Pakistan ranks lowest

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

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 that support streaming
  • or zero-rating partnerships with OTT providers

Although digital video consumption is shifting from offline to online. Pakistan is still in the very early stages of OTT adoption and streaming services. According to PTA, Pakistan has roughly 85,000 – 90,000 Netflix subscribers as of 2020 year end. Previously in the beginning of the same year it stood at 36,000 paid subscribers. ( Source: Dawn)

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 In Pakistan (2022)

When it comes to FREEMIUM streaming and local Pakistani content ,  YouTube is the king .  

Head over to the Think with Google Info graphic YouTube Pakistan’s Most Popular Online Video Platform. Streaming sports and tv series (dramas) are mainstream activities. As a result, it becomes 31.5 percent of Pakistan’s total population.

OTT Streaming

Updates to Google’s advertising resources indicate that YouTube had 71.70 million users in Pakistan in early 2022.

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

OTT Streaming
Disney+ Worldwide

Pakistan is still far off the radar on most leading subscriber based OTT streaming brands like Disney.While both Netflix and Amazon Prime launched together in 2016, the market share is noticeable only for the local market

The market dynamic is a different ball game altogether when seen in light of limited below 100 k  Netflix subscribers in 2020.  Till now, Netflix has ruled the premium streaming market in Pakistan with relative growth in subscriptions . Industry estimates to near double or 100% by year end 2022. However, they don’t publish their official numbers so real growth in value is unknown.

According to some media reports, Netflix’s potential revenue crossed PKR 1 Billion by year end 2020 largely due to the pandemic infused viewing. However, this is valuable only for Pakistani TV Content Producers who compare the market with TV. But not really for Netflix itself which operates globally. More so, when India and Bollywood producers are next door neighbors to Pakistan.

A critical reason why the streaming giant is not acquiring original Pakistani content

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.  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.

Amazon Prime will need to offer better content and provide much ease in the navigation of the app and better pricing plans, to be seen as a threat to Netflix.Also, most Pakistanis do not use credits cards  and online payments acceptable by several internatoinal OTT subscription services such as:

  • Paypal
  • Apple Store & Google Pay
  • Virtual Cards
  • Gift Cards
  • Partner Payments etc
How Much Does Netflix Pay For Movies, Shows? (Click To Read More)

Netflix doesn’t publicly disclose its deals, but from what we managed to gather around the Internet, Netflix is currently paying between $100 and $250 million for blockbuster movies, while popular TV shows with multiple seasons have budgets that range from $300 to $500 million. (Fiction Horizon)

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.

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.

Includes numbers and formula for music streaming monetization

 

Conclusion

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

SOLUTIONS! 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 only for YouTube so far. Hence, not translating into growth as paid subscription and globally acceptable revenue. That is to say for international brands and industry players to consider Pakistan a commercially viable market. 

*This blog is updated (periodically) with inputs from industry leaders.

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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.

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

Anne Freude
Anne Freude

Germany had a real party with streaming during the pandemic broke all records and now a hub for more experiments. Market helps.

Anjali Jha
Anjali Jha

Pakistani content is useful for platforms like Zee. Churails got quite the hype here largely Mumbai but more mass appeal needed.

Ibrahim Taha
Ibrahim Taha

Pakistan market needs to open up to digital wallets, payments and more tech savvy solutions for OTT to grow. Netflix being a 100k is Too small right now.

Safia Iqbal
Safia Iqbal

Good Blog. Content writing is so different and authentic unlike the norm these days especially here in markets like Dubai. I think being non commercial helps. Kudos.