Romil Ramgarhia: Aggregating Entertainment Is the Next Phase in India's OTT Evolution


Romil Ramgarhia through this article explores the transformative shift in India's digital entertainment and sheds light on the evolving landscape of OTT aggregation in India

In the past decade, India has witnessed a monumental shift in the way people consume entertainment. With the remarkable evolution of Television, progressing from black-and-white to the vibrant world of color to the introduction of cable and satellite TV, to now, the dominance of digital streaming services, marks an absolutely new era of content. Over-the-top (OTT) platforms have emerged as the new frontier for content consumption, reshaping how audiences engage with movies, series, and diverse digital content across categories in the country. Romil Ramgarhia , a visionary in the digital entertainment industry, shares, “The latest Ormax OTT Audience Report for 2023 reveals that the Indian OTT audience has surged to an impressive 481.1 million (or 48.11 crores) individuals. By offering unlimited access to a vast array of shows and movies on demand, the TV-watching experience has been transformed completely. Gone are the days of adhering to rigid movie or television schedules; now, viewers have the freedom to watch their desired content whenever it suits them best.”

In the midst of this evolution, a burgeoning opportunity emerges—a new phase of content liaisoning is gaining momentum, with JIO and Tata Play Binge taking the lead in this landscape. This new phase revolves around the consolidation of entertainment, called the aggregation of various OTT platforms. Renowned industry expert Romil Ramgarhia delves into this transformative phase, outlining its significance, impact on India's burgeoning OTT landscape, and the future of TV.

Understanding Aggregation in OTT

Aggregation in the OTT landscape refers to the consolidation of content from multiple streaming services onto a single platform or interface. “An aggregator in simple terms, consolidates content from various OTT applications into one, allowing users to access multiple platforms through a single app, subscription, and screen,” explains Romil Ramgarhia. “While individual streaming platforms offer a plethora of content, aggregators aim to streamline this wealth of entertainment, providing users with a unified destination to access diverse content across platforms. This consolidation simplifies the viewing experience, offering convenience and choice to consumers,” adds Romil Ramgarhia.

Romil underscores several key factors fuelling the surge toward aggregation in India's OTT space. “The foremost catalyst is the abundance of content scattered across various platforms,” cites Romil Ramgarhia. In a survey conducted by Accenture across 10 countries with 6,000 participants, it was revealed that 72% of consumers experienced frustration when trying to select something to watch. Furthermore, 26% of respondents took over 10 minutes to make a decision on what to watch. Towards resolving this dilemma are the aggregators of OTT. As audiences seek convenience and variety, aggregators emerge as facilitators, offering a centralized hub for seamless content discovery. “Another way to look at this aggregation is that it mirrors the role of traditional Multiple System Operators (MSOs) in the digital era,” cites Ramgarhia. “Just like MSOs bundled and delivered cable TV channels, OTT aggregators curate and offer a variety of streaming services under one platform, catering to diverse viewer preferences,” adds Romil Ramgarhia.

Moreover, India's diverse linguistic landscape contributes significantly to the demand for aggregation. With content spanning multiple languages and regional nuances, aggregators play a pivotal role in catering to the diverse preferences of India's vast population. Romil Ramgarhia also emphasizes the pivotal role of data-driven insights in empowering aggregators to elevate user experiences, customize content suggestions, and bolster engagement. Leveraging strategic partnerships and cutting-edge technologies will be key in fine-tuning these aggregator platforms, guaranteeing a vibrant and immersive entertainment journey for users. “This transformation presents significant opportunities, particularly for regional or smaller-scale OTT platforms, as distribution hurdles become less of a concern for them, opening avenues for growth and visibility,” concludes Romil Ramgarhia .

Acknowledging the Challenges of OTT Aggregation

While aggregation presents a promising paradigm shift, challenges loom large for the industry. Licensing agreements, content curation, and user experience optimization pose hurdles in the path to seamless aggregation. “Furthermore, OTT aggregators, operating as mere redistribution agents, grapple with a pivotal challenge rooted in the authenticity and legitimacy of the content they offer. In their role as intermediaries, these platforms frequently lack the rightful ownership or licensing of the content they present to consumers. This disconnects between claimed access and actual ownership raises a multifaceted dilemma. Not only does it cast doubts on the credibility of their services, but it also jeopardizes the integrity of the entertainment ecosystem,” opines Romil Ramgarhia. The struggle to establish concrete rights to the content they redistribute poses a fundamental hurdle for these aggregators, demanding a delicate balance between meeting consumer demands and ensuring legal and ethical compliance within the industry. Additionally, maintaining a balance between user privacy, data security, and personalized content recommendations remains a critical aspect of this evolving landscape. A new model needs to emerge to disrupt this space and make content with device more accessible to the consumer.

India's OTT evolution continues to redefine the entertainment landscape, and aggregation stands as the next transformative phase. Romil Ramgarhia asserts that this shift towards aggregation holds the promise of convenience, variety, and personalized experiences for consumers. As the digital entertainment sphere in India continues to evolve, the rise of aggregators signals an era of boundless possibilities and enhanced accessibility, revolutionizing the way audiences engage with content.

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