Video Streaming in India – Is bad internet the only reason?


Hulu, Vimeo, Netflix

Have you ever heard these names? Have you ever used them?

The answer to the first may be yes to a lot of people but to second I think a few would answer yes. Except for Youtube, Bigflix and now maybe TED videos very few services have hold of any kind in India.

Of course, one of the causes is that most of these services like Hulu and Netflix are not available in India. Even Google Play has not launched its audio or video services in India. But these are not the only reason that Video streaming is not popular, especially comparing to audio streaming which has gained some traction in recent years.

Of course, there is always the elephant in the room – quality of internet in India. It is to say politely, growing. I will not talk about the speed though for now. The success of Youtube during World Cup showed that there is a market and there is speed somewhere.

Video Streaming in India

I want to discuss this speed and other things. Let me take one topic at a time.

1. TV

Television rules the roost and is in no mood to give in to internet soon. People are hooked to their favourite TV shows and have no source to watch them on internet. We have services like Bigflix that show movies but nothing to entice a user to watch via internet every day. Only TV can do that.

Netflix and Hulu do that in US. We need something like that to move people to internet.

2. Data Caps

Continuous streaming isn’t going to do any good to your data caps and with the meagre data caps of 3-5 GB for good connections it is no wonder that people are stingy with their net.

Video streaming is a bandwidth hog. And the chicken and egg situation does not help at all. If people use internet more it will become cheaper and it will become cheaper if people use it more.

3. Mobile internet

In India, mobile internet is gaining more traction and though watching video in mobile is feasible it is not an experience comparable to television.

4. Audio Streaming

It is comparatively more successful because of three prominent things. First, it requires less bandwidth. Second, it works remarkably well on mobile (read Saavn). Third, in many offices no one frowns if you listen to music while working but video means you are not doing your job. In my office itself I can see almost everyone with earplugs in their ears but the screen has an excel sheet on it Smile

Amidst all this, youtube seems to find success because of a few reasons – one, it is already installed in most smartphones thus becoming the first source in case a person wants to watch video on mobile.

Second, most videos are small in youtube and people can watch them without killing their bandwidth quotas. World cup of course was a different ball game. Even companies had a blind spot when their employees watched in office but that is the charm of cricket and not something that will contribute to anything else.

What do you guys think? Will video services gain any substantial market in future?

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