These days, without a doubt, Netflix rules the entertainment world. In 2021, this video subscription company pulled in annual revenues of over $28 billion and boasted a paid user base of more than 214 million members. Launched in 1997 as a DVD rent-by-mail company, it was not until 2016 that this American juggernaut entered the Indian market. Despite public perception and massive brand recognition, it did not achieve instant success in India. Piracy protection issues riddled its expansion in Asia. It took a worldwide pandemic and multiple consequent lockdowns to cause a media consumption boom in the region, as over-the-top streaming services saw a 30% rise in paid subscriptions from January 2020 to July that same year.
Today, the subscription video-on-demand sphere in India dramatically differs compared to just two years ago. The pandemic changed the way people consume media, particularly video content, previously standard for TV stations. Now, people want exclusive shows/movies at their fingertips. They want to select what and when they will see. Even though Netflix and Amazon Prime also dominate the Indian market, it is a unique one in that these two media behemoths face fierce competition here from multiple Indian-based contenders. Below, we list the best ones that boast an excellent movie selection.
Operated by Zee Entertainment Enterprises, ZEE5 is an OTT platform that went live in early-2018, with content in twelve languages. Its app is available for iOS and Android devices, plus Smart TVs. The company claims that it has 48 million paid subscribers and that close to 173 million people watch its content. A yearly subscription to ZEE5 costs ₹ 499, and it gets users entry to a library that features a slew of ZEE5 original shows, along with ones from Zindagi and Alt Balaji. Moreover, this platform has a movie catalog of over 4,500 titles. Popular films available for streaming here include Dial 100, 14 Phere, 200 Halla Ho, Radhe, and Teen Patti. The latter is an older release that recently made a resurgence. It focuses on how to use math in games played in casinos.
Indian film and television producer Ekta Kapoor founded ALTBalaji in 2017. It is a subsidiary of Balaji Telefilms behind multiple long-running Indian soap operas and reality shows. ALTBalaji is available across thirty-two different interfaces, and they claim to have the most massive content bank in the world’s second-most-populous country. They also boast that their user base is above 34 million. Despite producing their content, the company also distributes many older films, such as Krishna Cottage, Shor in the City, Kya Kool Hai Hum, and C Kkompany. These are only a few that have found new audiences on this platform. The annual ALTBalaji subscription will run interested parties ₹300 per year.
Owned by Novi Digital Entertainment but operated by Disney, Hotstar is a super established OTT service in India. It also is available in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, providing those countries’ residents with content from a network of partners like Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, and Pixar. As of October 2021, it has 43 million paid subscriptions and more than 300 million active viewers. The main reason for its vast viewership figure is that it offers many Disney shows, which attract younger demographics. Hotstar has recently announced plans to go global, breaking into new markets like Vietnam and the Philippines in 2020. Currently, it is also available in the UK, US, Canada, and Singapore, and in all of these regions, it predominantly targets Indian ex-pats. A yearly subscription to Hotstar costs ₹1,000.
Sony Pictures Network decided to branch off into the OTT realm in India in 2013. It was the first video subscription service in the country, featuring licensed content from other distributors and production entities, such as ITV and Lionsgate. Though it is mainly recognizable by Indians for its WWE-oriented plans, it also has a decent movie portfolio. Since 2020, it has also taken a more active role as a distributor and producer of films and TV series. Popular SonyLIV-produced shows include Married Women Diaries and Lovebytes, and the LIV Premium plan comes with a price tag of ₹ 999. Its benefits include no-ad streaming, access to the latest international shows, plus a download option. SonyLIV’s content is available in Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, and Punjabi.
Aha is a new service that became operational in February 2020, when the pandemic OTT explosion began. It represents a joint venture between the My Home Group and Geetha Arts. It is the brainchild of movie producer Allu Arvind, who wanted to develop a streaming platform that only hosted Telugu content. In under two years, Aha has created fifteen films and twenty shows. Anyone can watch these for the affordable price of ₹365 per year.
About the Author
Shelly Schiff has been working in the gambling industry since 2009, mainly on the digital side of things, employed by OUSC. However, over her eleven-year career, Shelly has provided content for many other top interactive gaming websites. She knows all there is to know about slots and has in-depth knowledge of the most popular table games. Her golden retriever Garry occupies most of her leisure time. Though, when she can, she loves reading Jim Thompson-like crime novels.