OTT platforms are capturing the Indian markets. But what is an OTT platform? What’s media streaming and who are the top OTT service providers in India? If you wanted to know about this then this blog will answer all your questions and more.

Blog read time: 10.10 mins

In this blog, you will find:
– What are OTT platforms and what does it mean?
– Listing of the top OTT platform service providers in India.
– Review of the best 5 OTT platforms in India.
– What caused the rise of video streaming services in 2020?
– My recommendations on the best movies and TV series available on each video streaming services.

Finally, what 2021 has in store for these video streaming OTT platforms? My thoughts and suggestions.

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1.OTT Platforms

The year 2020 saw the rise of OTT platforms’ viewership. There are now 40+ OTT service providers in India. It’s a ₹50 billion industry.

1.1.What is an OTT platform?

OTT is an abbreviation and its full form is “Over The Top“. It is a service that streams media/audios/videos directly to viewers over the internet. A good example is the “Video On Demand” (VOD) service. Where you pay a monthly or annual subscription and get to watch the available videos. You can stream on a mobile, tablet, laptop, computer, and TV. Hence giving you the flexibility of watching it anywhere anytime.

OTT platforms are majorly divided into:

  1. Advertising video on demand (AVOD)
  2. Subscription video on demand (SVOD)
  3. Freemium & transactional video on demand (TVOD)

In 2020 subscription-based market (SVOD) continued to grow significantly. This OTT type is the focus of this article.

Youtube is also an OTT platform. Its the biggest OTT platform in India. We’re not considering it for this post because it would be a separate blog in itself. Everyone already knows about it.

1.2.How are the OTT platforms different from cable and tv services?

The main difference is that you can choose what to watch and when to watch. Another huge advantage is you can pause and play. Following are other comparisons between OTT and cable/TV service.

OTT serviceCable/TV service
Requires an internet connection.Requires either a cable, dish, set-top-box.
You can choose what to watch and when to watch.It has fixed programs running at fixed times on fixed channels
You can pause and play.No such option.
Higher ROI thus costing less.Lower ROI thus costing more.
You can binge-watch an entire web/TV series in one go.TV episodes are available as per scheduled time.
There are no device type restrictions. Most modern devices support OTT.Works only with TV.

1.3.How did the OTT Platforms start in India?

In 2008, Reliance Entertainment started BIGFlix. Hence beginning the journey of Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms in India. The nexGTv in 2010 was the first mobile app. It started streaming live TV and on-demand services in India.

Did you know: Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 were the first cricket matches to be live-streamed on OTT platform.

1.4.What effect did lockdown have on OTT platforms, especially video-on-demand services?

Lockdown is an emergency protocol that prohibits people from leaving a specified area. The Covid-19 pandemic has gripped the world in 2020. So to stop the human-to-human spread many countries went into a lockdown. India also asked its citizen to stay-at-home.

With nothing much to do at home, the usage of OTT started growing. Especially in metro cities, where the internet infrastructure was already in place. The speed and cost of internet plans gave a major boost to usage. Airtel, Reliance Jio, BSNL, Vodafone, etc made internet and thereby making the OTT platforms more accessible to the general public.

Usage statistics for 2020:
– The 5 metro cities account for 60% of OTT usage.
– Indians under the age of 35 years account for 90% usage.
– Males account for 80% usage.

Due to lockdown, the movie theatres were also closed. Filming of movies and TV series had also stopped. Thus making OTT platforms as the only option available for watching the content of our choice. Also the huge collection of movies and tv/web series makes it an irresistible option.

OTT made binge-watching possible

Binge-watching means watching several episodes of a TV series back-to-back. It’s also called as binge-viewing or marathon-viewing. With cable/TV, it was not possible because an episode of a TV series releases once every week. OTT platforms release the entire TV series’ season, containing all the episodes, in one shot. Hence binge-watching became a possibility.

I have watched the entire seasons of Mirzapur, Family Man, Stranger Things, Money Heist, etc in one sitting. After every marathon-viewing, I have always told myself that I won’t do it again. “It’s not a good habit”, “It’s such a big waste of time”, “I should sleep by 11 pm”, etc.

Then Mirzapur season 2 came and I binged it. Started at 9 pm and finished it at 6 am. I am embarrassed but I loved it and have promised not to binge-watch again. If you use OTT then I m sure you know exactly what I mean. If you have just started or planning to start, then you’ll know very soon. 🙂

2.Review: The best 5 OTT platforms / Over-the-top video streaming services in India

There are 40+ OTT video-on-demand platforms providing video streaming services in India. Following are the top 5 video streaming services. They are the industry leaders in India. This is a quick review of the services and features that each one of them provides.

2.1.Hotstar (now Disney+ Hotstar)

Hotstar launched in 2015. Star India owns Hotstar. It is the most dominant video streaming service in India. It has more than 300 million active subscribers.

In 2019, The Walt Disney Company acquired its US parent company 21st Century Fox. Since April 2020 Disney+Hotstar came into existence.

Cricket world cup (2015), Game of Thrones series (2016) and Indian Premier League (2019) live streaming gave it the major viewership share.

Disney+ Hotstar subscription cost

Subscription pricing for VIP plan is ₹399/year and for Premium plan is ₹299/month or ₹1,499/year.

Benefits available with Disney+ Hotstar subscription

With VIP plan you get the following:

  • HD quality streaming.
  • Disney+ movies, Marvel superhero movies and kids show. All in dubbed language.
  • 1 screen to watch on.
  • Content has ads.
  • No Disney+ originals.

With Premium plan you get the following:

  • FHD quality streaming.
  • All English and dubbed movies.
  • Ad-free content.
  • 2 screens to watch on.
  • Disney+ originals.

Languages available in Disney+ Hotstar

The content is available in the following languages Marathi, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali, English and Indonesian.

Link to Disney+ Hotstar subscription

Go to https://www.hotstar.com/in/subscribe/select-plan

2.2.Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video or Prime video came to India in 2016. It started in the United States in 2006. Amazon Inc owns it. It is available in many countries like US, UK, Germany, Australia, Canada, etc.

It has a huge library of movies and TV series. The company also produces original content like Family Man, Mirzapur, etc.

Amazon Prime is the second most subscribed program in India. It has a low cost and provides good quality content.

It also has many famous old TV shows like Seinfeld, The Big Band Theory, The Office, etc.

Amazon Prime Video subscription cost

Subscription pricing is ₹129/month or ₹999/year.

Benefits available with Amazon Prime Video subscription

  • Unlimited free and fast delivery on Amazon Store.
  • Ad-free music on Prime Music.
  • Watch movies and TV series on Prime Video.
  • Read ebooks and comics on Prime Reading.
  • Enjoy free in-game content available on Gaming with Prime.

Languages available in Amazon Prime Video

The content is available in the following languages Marathi, English, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada, Odia, Punjabi, and Gujarati.

Link to Amazon Prime Video subscription

Click on the banner

OTT Platforms – Amazon Prime subscription banner

2.3.Netflix

Netflix Inc is the parent company. It launched Netflix in the US in 1997. In 2016, Netflix launched its video streaming service in India. It is also available in many countries like US, UK, Germany, France, Australia, etc.

They are famous for their Netflix Original content production. They have created high budget TV shows and movies. Some example of original content is House of Cards, Money Heist, The Crown, Peaky Blinders, Sacred Games and many others.

It has the most expensive membership of all the services. It has less number of members but has the highest watch time. This means that it has the best content but is expensive for many.

Netflix subscription cost

Subscription pricing is between ₹199/month to ₹799/month depending on the plan type you buy.

  • The mobile-only plan is ₹199/month
  • The basic plan is ₹499/month
  • The standard plan is ₹649/month
  • The premium plan is ₹799/month.

Benefits available with Netflix subscription

Following is the difference between the plans

  • Mobile-only plan: you can watch only on 1 mobile at-a-time at 480p resolution.
  • Basic plan: you can watch on 1 device at-a-time at 480p resolution.
  • Standard plan: you can watch on 2 devices at-a-time at 1080p resolution.
  • Premium plan: you can watch on 4 devices at-a-time at 4K+HDR resolution.

Languages available in Netflix

The content is available in the following languages English, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, and Kannada.

Link to Netflix subscription

Go to https://www.netflix.com/in/

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2.4.Zee 5

In 2013, Zee entertainment launched its OTT platform DittoTV. DittoTV was an aggregator service which contained shows from across all media channels. Shows from Star, Sony, Zee, etc were available in it.

In 2018, DittoTV was dissolved and Zee5 came into being.

It has 1000+ movies and 100+ live TV channels.

Zee5 subscription cost

The Premium (All Access) subscription pricing is ₹99 for 1 month, ₹299 for 3 months, ₹599 for 6 months, and ₹999 for 1 year.

The Zee5 Club subscription pricing is ₹365 for 1 year. It gives you partial access to Zee5 and ALT Balaji’s content.

Benefits available with Zee5 subscription

You would get the following benefits:

  • Latest TV shows from ZEE before the telecast
  • Zindagi TV shows
  • Zee5 originals
  • ALT Balaji shows
  • 1000+ movies
  • Stream on 5 devices at-a-time.

Languages available in Zee5

The content is available in the following languages Marathi, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Odia, Gujarati, English

Link to Zee5 subscription

Go to https://www.zee5.com/myaccount/subscription

2.5.SonyLIV

In 2013, Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt. Ltd launched its OTT platform SonyLIV. It has more than 700+ movies and many TV shows.

It also produces original content like Lovebytes, Married Women Diaries, etc.

SonyLIV subscription cost

Its LIV Premium plan costs ₹299 for 1 month, ₹699 for 6 months, and ₹999 for 1 year.

Benefits available with SonyLIV subscription

You would get the following benefits:

  • Latest international shows.
  • All live sports and TV channels.
  • All LIV special+ & KBC PlayAlong gold.
  • Sony and SAB show on TV time.
  • Can be watched on 2 devices at-a-time.

Languages available in SonyLIV

The content is available in the following languages Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada, and Punjabi.

Link to SonyLIV subscription

Go to https://www.sonyliv.com/subscription

Gaana, JioSaavn, Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, Wynk Music, Google Play, Spotify and Hungama Music are some of the major OTT audio platforms in India.

3.A quick comparison between the best 3 OTT platforms providing video streaming services in India

Following is a quick comparison of the top 3 OTT video platforms in India.

Disney+ Hotstar

  • Price: ₹1,499/year.
  • Devices at-a-time: 2 devices.
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Top Pro: All Marvel superhero and kids content from Disney+ are available on it.
  • Top Con: Needs more original content.

Amazon Prime

  • Price: ₹999/year.
  • Devices at-a-time: 3 devices.
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Top Pro: Best original Indian movies and TV series.
  • Top Con: Not that much variety.

Netflix

  • Price: ₹799/month.
  • Devices at-a-time: 4 devices.
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Top Pro: Best original movies and TV series.
  • Top Con: Very expensive.

Want to know which OTT platform I prefer? Find it in the concluding section.

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4.Top 5 pros and cons of Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms

It’s a great tool of the modern days but only if enjoyed responsibly.
Following are some Pros and Cons of the OTT Platforms.

Pros

  • You can choose what to watch.
  • You can choose when to watch. Pause and play as per your convenience.
  • Quality of content is better.
  • International and regional language content is available.
  • Almost all devices can stream the media. You can consume it anywhere.

Cons

  • Don’t binge-watch, it is harmful to health.
  • Don’t get addicted. Enjoy it responsibly.
  • With limited censorship on OTT platform content, put parental control on what kids are watching.
  • Internet consumption goes up.
  • With too many choices you don’t know what to watch. More time gets wasted in choosing what to watch.

5.Movies: Top movie recommendations on each of the OTT platforms for you

These are my list of must-watch movies. If you have not watched them then I highly recommend them. These are the best movies available only on these video-on-demand services. Watch them before they go away from these OTT platforms.

5.1.Disney+ Hotstar top 5 movies

Following movies are my recommendation for Disney+ Hotstar.

  • Lootcase (Comedy/Drama) (Hindi)
  • Bangalore days (Romance/Drama) (Malayalam)
  • Jojo Rabbit (War/Dark comedy) (English)
  • Ford v Ferrari (Sport/Drama) (English)
  • Chhichhore (Comedy/Drama) (Hindi)

5.2.Amazon Prime top 5 movies

Following movies are my recommendation for Amazon Prime.

  • Mardaani 2 (Action/Drama) (Hindi)
  • Hit (Thriller/Mystery) (Telugu)
  • Thappad (Drama) (Hindi)
  • Kesari (War/Action) (Hindi)
  • Trance (Drama/Action) (Malayalam)

5.3.Netflix top 5 movies

Following movies are my recommendation for Netflix.

  • Nightcrawler (Thriller/Crime) (English)
  • Udaan (Drama) (Hindi)
  • Super Deluxe (Drama/ Dark comedy) (Tamil)
  • Harishchandrani factory (Drama/Comedy) (Marathi)
  • Uyare (Drama) (Malayalam)

5.4.Zee5 top 4 movies

Following movies are my recommendation for Zee5.

  • Tigers (Drama/Thriller) (Hindi)
  • Chintu ka Birthday (Drama) (Hindi)
  • Hotel Mumbai (Drama/Action- Thriller) (English)
  • Barot House (Suspense/Thriller) (Hindi)

5.5.SonyLIV top 4 movies

Following movies are my recommendation for SonyLIV.

  • Kadakh (Comedy) (Hindi)
  • Piku (Comedy) (Hindi)
  • Devdas (Drama) (Hindi)
  • Golmal (Comedy) (Hindi)

Did you know: Movies and TV series are not permanent on the OTT platforms. Most of them are but many come and go. So be sure to watch them when they are available on your video streaming platform.

6.TV Series: Binge-worthy TV Series on each of the OTT platforms for you

Following is my list of must-watch TV series on each of the OTT platforms. If you have not watched them then I highly recommend them.

6.1.Disney+ Hotstar top 2 TV series

Following are my TV series recommendation on Disney+ Hotstar for you:

  • Special Ops (Action) (Hindi)
  • Criminal Justice (Crime) (Hindi)

6.2.Amazon Prime top 7 TV series

Following are my TV series recommendation on Amazon Prime for you:

  • The Family Man (Action/Drama) (Hindi)
  • Mirzapur (Crime) (Hindi)
  • Panchayat (Comedy/Drama) (Hindi)
  • Made in Heaven (Drama)(Hindi)
  • Breathe (Drama) (Hindi)
  • Seinfeld (Comedy) (English)
  • The Office (Comedy) (English)

6.3.Netflix top 7 TV series

Following are my TV series recommendation on Netflix for you:

  • Selection Day (Sports/Drama) (Hindi)
  • Delhi Crime (Crime/Drama) (Hindi)
  • Breaking Bad (Crime) (English)
  • Masaba Masaba (Comedy/Drama) (Hindi)
  • The Crown (Drama) (English)
  • Black Mirror (Sci-Fi/Thriller) (English)
  • Mind Hunter (Thriller) (English)

6.4.Zee5 top 3 TV series

Following are my TV series recommendation on Zee5 for you:

  • Rangbaaz Season 1 (Action) (Hindi)
  • The verdict: State vs Nanavati (Crime) (Hindi)
  • State of Siege 26/11 (Action) (Hindi)

6.5.SonyLIV top 2 TV series

Following are my TV series recommendation on SonyLIV for you:

  • Gullak (Comedy/Drama) (Hindi)
  • Scam 1992 (Crime/Drama) (Hindi)

6.6.ALTBalaji top 4 TV series

Following are my TV series recommendation on ALTBalaji for you:

  • Home (Drama) (Hindi)
  • Bose: Dead/ Alive (Mystery) (Hindi)
  • The Dysfunctional Family (Comedy/Drama) (Hindi)
  • Romil and Jugal (Romantic/Drama) (Hindi)

6.7.MX player top 2 TV series

Following are my TV series recommendation on MX Player for you:

  • Thinkistaan (Drama) (Hindi)
  • I’m Mature (Teenage/Drama) (Hindi)

Did you know: During the pandemic, the usage of OTT platforms increased exponentially. To meet the increasing demand and reduce internet congestion all OTT platforms switched to SD resolution.

Hotstar, SonyLIV, ALTBalaji, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Zee5 had unanimously decided to temporarily cut down high definition (HD) picture quality (1080p & 720p) bitrate to standard definition (SD) picture quality (480p).

7.Hidden gems: The best movies that no one is talking about

In the glow and shine of famous movies, some hidden gems get missed out. When you happen to come across these kinds by chance, its a fabulous feeling.

Following are some of the hidden gems that I found about which no one talks about:

  • Helen on Netflix (Malayalam)
  • Aankhon Dekhi on Netflix (Hindi)
  • Brahman Naman on Netflix (English)
  • Do Dooni Chaar on Netflix (Hindi)

8.Are there any OTT Platforms for watching regional content?

Most of the OTT platforms serve English and Hindi content. There are regional language content also available but they are far and few.

Following are some of the regional OTT platforms that I found:

  • Aha Video (Telugu)
  • Hoichoi (Bengali)
  • Manorma Max (Malayalam)
  • BS Value (Tamil)

Dedicated OTT platforms for regional content is increasing. Hopefully, in 2021 we will see more of them.

Amazon’s Audible is another great OTT platform for listening to your favourite books. Read more about Audible here.

9.What are the upcoming movies and TV series in 2021 that would stream on OTT platforms?

The year 2020 saw many new movies and TV series being released on OTT platforms directly. With the exponential growth of the audience for OTT platforms, the year 2021 will be an exciting year.

9.1.Movies

Following are the movies that are eagerly awaited:

  • The White Tiger (Netflix) (English)
  • Ak vs Ak (Netflix) (Hindi)
  • Bhuj: The pride of India (Disney+ Hotstar) (Hindi)
  • The Big Bull (Disney+ Hotstar) (Hindi)

9.2.TV Shows

Following are the TV shows that are eagerly awaited:

  • The Family Man Season 2 (Amazon Prime) (Hindi)
  • Dilli (Amazon Prime) (Hindi)
  • Bhaag beanie Bhaag (Netflix) (Hindi)
  • Bombay Begums (Netflix) (Hindi)

10.Finally

I remember the days when I was a kid and used to watch programs on TV. They were mostly cartoons on Cartoon Network. I knew the time when my favourite programs used to start and I planned my schoolwork around that. So that I don’t miss my favourite shows.

But now I have the control, I can watch what I want and when I want. The quality of content on these OTT platforms is also getting better. It is like the home delivery of your favourite movies and TV shows. Variety of content has definitely increased my outlook in life. Today I know more about various cultures of the world. All thanks to these OTT platforms that are bringing in the world to my home.

It is also much more cost-effective than going to multiplexes. We make it a complete family affair. We all watch some of the movies together. It can’t replace the experience of a movie theatre but is better than cable TV.

OTT platforms are on the cusp of disrupting the status of cable and TV channels. By 2025, they would overtake all media platforms. As the internet reaches tier II+ cities the growth of Over-The-Top platforms will multiply.

What should you choose

  • Amazon Prime Video: If you’re just starting and budget is tight then go for Amazon Prime Video, it has the highest return-on-investment (ROI). The total features and services that you get for the price are tremendous.
  • Disney+ Hotstar: If you have kids or are a Marvel superhero movies fan, then nothing is better than Disney+ Hotstar. News, sports and TV soaps are also available. Especially with their planned shows coming in 2021. You just cannot miss it.
  • Netflix: If you want quality then go for Netflix. It has the best movies and shows. Their interface and service are also user-friendly.

What’s my pick

Well, I have subscriptions to all 3. I know, I am rich! 🙂 I live in a joint family and together we have subscriptions to all 3. This would be a more correct statement.

Out of all 3, my favourite is Netflix. It has the best interface, it’s so convenient. The Netflix Originals are the best. They are getting better with Hindi content also. I have never faced any lag or speed issue with it.

The year 2021 would be great with the lineup that all the OTT platforms have planned. I am excited about it.

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Contributed by Ankur Aggarwal
I am a screenplay writer. The only thing I love to do is to watch movies.
My Area of expertise - I can recommend movies on the basis of someone's mood.
My Area of philosophy - ले दे के अपने पास फ़क़त इक नज़र तो है | क्यूँ देखें ज़िंदगी को किसी की नज़र से हम ~ Sahir Ludhianvi

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