OTT & VoD data traffic in India grew 1,317% during Covid, gaming rose 1,007%: Ivo Ivanov


What has been DE-CIX’s experience handling data traffic in India?

There were huge changes in data traffic. In India, the four DE-CIX locations noted a strong rise in traffic from internet usage – up to 192% since the pandemic hit the country. The demand is enormous, and DE-CIX has further increased its geographical presence lately in order to offer new connectivity options closer to the users in different geographies around the globe, as well as doubling our backbone capacity in India for seamless and secure interconnection.


Could you share some statistics on data consumption?

There was a significant growth in traffic. For instance, between February to December 2020, OTT & Video on Demand grew a whopping 1,317%, while gaming grew at 1,007%. Similarly, ISP traffic grew at 397%, whereas traffic from content delivery networks rose 328%. Data traffic at social & online media grew by 210% during the same period.


What were the data consumption trends for rural India?

Rural data consumption has increased in comparison to urban India, but this figure is only for mobile data usage.


With respect to India’s data consumption story, have you witnessed any trends and how do you plan to evolve with it?

What is clear from last twelve months is that all areas of business and private life rely more heavily today than ever before on digital applications. But beyond the virtual desktop and video streaming, where we certainly saw enormous jumps in usage during 2020, we have also seen specific sectors taking leaps ahead with digital applications and services, ranging from e-health to logistics and mobility applications, and on to the finance sector – but also education, administrative services, and even agriculture. This transformation has not been caused by Covid, but accelerated by it.

So last year, we developed and announced DE-CIX Enterprise Interconnection Federation services that allows enterprises to create their own interconnection ecosystem (closed user groups or virtual private ecosystems) based on their security, performance and compliance requirements. For instance, a bank can create its own closed user group in the DE-CIX ecosystem and invite all its stakeholders like data analytic companies, transaction providers, cloud connectivity providers and corporate and residential internet access providers to interconnect with the bank’s network directly. This increases the performance, efficiency, and security of the data exchange.


DE-CIX recently increased points of presence (PoPs) in India. What is the rationale behind it?

We embarked on this expansion for connected network operators. We are able to bring a lot of internet content closer to the users across India. By announcing these four very important locations, we will have our key markets fortified for interconnectivity solutions. In last 12 months at DE-CIX India, we have unambiguously demonstrated to the industry how we have significantly impacted and redefined the market, such that we have become the market leader with a customer base of 310+.

The lowest latency of internet traffic is more crucial than ever. DE-CIX India will continue to enable more platforms across the country, as close as possible to the users. This is key to cover the future demand for the best possible performance on all digital applications, including live sports streaming, gaming, virtual desktops and cloud connectivity in general, real time adoptive robotics in the manufacturing section, etc.

DE-CIX is also in discussion with LEO satellite operators to support their expansion plans to deliver great internet experience in remote areas. LEO satellites have a strong business case. They cost lower compared to common satellite technology. Second, maintenance is easier. Third that they are low cruising allows a much better performance on the latency side. They perform lower than 25 milliseconds, which is today absolutely okay for online gaming, and bandwidth is much higher, in range of tens of gigabits, and is sufficient enough to serve house calls and offices. So my expectation is that on account of much less capex and open on the operator side, the products will be affordable.


What is your view on India’s digital journey going ahead?

In 2021 everything related to digitisation of entertainment, gaming, live sports, education, healthcare, digitised cars etc will gain prominence. In the B2B world, digitisation of processes, usage of cloud services and use of a distributed data exchange, which is not on premise with the enterprises and needs to be placed in hyper scale data centres and needs to be distributed across the country.



Guide to OTT platforms in India

OTT stands for “over-the-top,” the phrase is used for the distribution of film and TV content via the Internet, without requiring users to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite pay TV. It is commonly applied to video-on-demand platforms, but also refers to audio streaming, messaging services, or internet-based voice calling solutions. OTT can be bifurcated into three types.

  • OTT Television: Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Xbox, Playstation.
  • OTT Video: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, etc.
  • OTT Messaging: WhatsApp, Facebook messenger and many more.
  • OTT Voice Calling: Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat, etc.

The following image is based according to Counterpoint Research’s India OTT Video Content Market Consumer Survey which was conducted in the month of June, 2019.

Telecom Companies like Airtel and Vodafone are advertising about Amazon & Netflix free membership by subscribing to their postpaid plan, whereas JioTV advertises about movies and LiveTV. With the increasing hyper-competition in the telecom space, the players are forced to roll out different and unique plans to retain customers and their loyalty. Indian OTT market has about 25 players. Telecoms are offering different models in order to cater to the different needs for varied audience. Some provide regional content with devotional content for preferred audience, Live TV services and more. Reliance Jio TV has over 550 live TV channels, helping them increase their 4G subscriber base. Airtel TV app offer 300 LIVE TV channels, including 29 HD channels offering 6000 plus movies and regional shows.

In a recent survey, it is said that 89% of users include from the age group of 16-35 years.  Substantial consumer group of salaried employees, followed by students, business owners, housewives, and others, the study added. Despite Indians are warming up to the idea of paying for content, the market continues to be driven by advertisements – which ask users to subscribe – are driving revenues for platform owners.

Major OTT Players in India:

  • Zee5 is an Indian video on demand website run by Essel Group via its subdivision Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited. This platform provides content to its audience in 12 major Indian languages. The platform has an overall 76.4 million worldwide viewers.
  • Alt Balaji is associated with Balaji which has a wide range of genres consisting Balaji films and web series for its 27.3 million subscribers.
  • Eros Now is an Indian subscription based over the top, video on-demand Indian & South Asian entertainment and media platform. The platform has more than 12,000 digital titles that include movies, television shows, music videos and 2.5 lakhs music tracks. It has a subscriber count of 128 million recorded users and 30 million paid subscribers worldwide.
  • YuppTV is an over-the-top content provider for South Asian content. This platform includes live television and films. It allows consumers to view content on up to six screens of connected TVs, STBs, PC, smartphones, tablets and game consoles. This OTT has 100 thousand subscribers and the number is growing.
  • The Viral Fever (TVF) is an online YouTube channel established by TVF Media Labs. It is one of the early arrivals on the Indian digital entertainment segment with videos covering a range of topics on Indian politics, movies, lifestyle, and emerging social concepts. The platform has over 6.4 million subscribers.
  • Walt Disney launched ad-free video streaming service Disney+ in the United States and the company may not begin the services in India, but alternately route the original content to Indian audiences through Hotstar.

Fun Facts about OTT in India:

  • There are 432 million Internet users in India; growing at a rate of 4-8%
  • 35% of growth is seen year-over-year in the number of India’s OTT video viewers.
  • There are 2.5 times more vernacular users compared to the English Internet user base.
  • Rs 5595 crore is the projected revenue to be collected from OTT video in India by 2022.