9 reasons why we’re streaming and not idiot-boxing

Sahil Menderiita spends most of his free time catching the latest episode of Silicon Valley on his phone, following the fortunes of his favourite football side and F1 races on Hotstar and watching Wild Wild Country on Netflix. He doesn’t own a TV and has not watched cable television for almost a year now. That’s where large sections of urban India are headed: online. Laptops and phones are fast replacing regular cable television as the average entertainment fix.

With internet speeds going up and data packs easily available, streaming platforms are becoming the go-to place to get the latest films, TV series and live sporting action. Does this mean that regular cable/DTH providers will soon go the way of the dodo, especially in urban India? Will apps and streaming platforms herald a new era in consuming content? But mostly, why the change?

9 reasons why we’re streaming and not idiot-boxing

Vijay Subramaniam, Director Content, Amazon Prime, seems to have a part of the answer: “The way people consume entertainment is changing at a fast clip globally and nowhere as rapidly as we have seen in India. There are four major reasons for this: customer choice and flexibility, a vibrant and growing entertainment eco-system of compelling content, rapid improvements in digital infrastructure and a growing young adult population who are connected and comfortable with this medium. These factors drive the shift towards convenience-based, on-demand streaming.” Here, more reasons why.

1. We need everything asap

Gone are the days when we needed to wait until Sex and the City or Buffy the Vampire Slayer came to cable TV in India. “I have been watching shows such as How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men with the aid of torrents till 2010. I moved on to watching Game of Thrones and House of Cards. Once Netflix launched in India and Prime followed suit, I hardly use torrents,” says Mumbai-based software professional Shakti Prasad. “Online platforms make sure you can access the latest shows immediately. That makes subscribing to these platforms a no-brainer.”

2. Faster Internet speed

People in their 40s still remember the days of dial-up connections and dodgy lines. Whether they’re just grateful that things have improved or whether urban India has a decided advantage, people believe they have a good deal. Now, the surprising thing is that speeds aren’t that fast at all. Towards the end of last year, Ookla released its Speedtest Global Index. This ranks average internet speeds on mobile and home broadband in different countries. India fared 109th of 122 countries, on internet speeds, and 76 out of 133 for broadband.

3. Longer commutes

People like Prasad spend a great deal of time on the road, in a driver-driven car. “A lot of my viewing happens during my commute to and from work,” he says. It’s also more flexible — so you can watch them on a tablet, the mobile phone, even on a TV.

4. Ad-free content

In reality, no one is really doing 10 squats during an ad break, no matter how many times your fitness instructor may tell you to. “I don’t want to watch 20 ads while catching the latest summer blockbuster. It’s irritating to break just as you’re getting into a tense situation in the plot,” says Hemanth K. Remember, impatience is the hallmark of our times (go back to reason 1). “A normal three-hour Hindi movie stretches for more than four hours, plus you can’t skip scenes you don’t really want to watch on cable,” he adds.

5. Cable hasn’t changed much over the years

“Regular TV programming in India does not offer much to millennials, and that is responsible for this shift to getting good content online,” says Abhishek S, from Delhi. He’s right. The format is usually to play shows and movies that have already played intheatres or in the West. There isn’t much off-beat programming, and you can channel-surf at different parts of the day and catch nothing that interests you.

6. Streaming goes local

Jessica Lee, VP, Communications, Netflix Asia, points out that the company has been working on local partnerships to make sure that Netflix is more accessible in India. “We have launched partnerships with Airtel Digital TV, Videocon and Vodafone to make it much easier for Indian consumers to watch Netflix, whether on a set-top box or on a mobile. Our download feature has been a big hit in India — Indians are amongst the top mobile downloaders in the world for Netflix content. The ability to stream or download their favourite series and films anywhere, on any device, is also influencing when Indians consume entertainment.

7. Binge-watching nation

According to a Netflix survey, Indians are the second-highest public bingers in the world (88%). Understandable then, Lee says they are working on generating more content for India. Subramaniam points out, “We have noticed that consumers binge-watch TV shows during the week and tend to watch new movies over the weekend. High quality, premium TV content is popular too.”

8. Odd-hour watching

It stands to reason: the nature of work and workplaces is changing. Peer groups influence what people are watching. “The fact that I can play a song I am thinking about immediately, or watch the latest movie without worrying whether it is on cable makes me consume content online,” says Abhishek.

9. Core competencies are streamlined

“While Netflix has excellent original programmes and documentaries, Hotstar scores on sports content and Prime has a lot of local Indian content,” says IT analyst Suresh Kumar. Saad Khan, whose movie, Humble Politician Nograj came directly from theatres to Amazon Prime, points out, “The digital shift in India remains slow. Traditional cable continues to dominate in the hinterland. It will take some time for the digital revolution to take over the entire country. I do feel that these platforms ensure that regional cinema gets it due. I got calls and messages from people across the country, who enjoyed the film.”

Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 7:24:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/9-reasons-why-we-prefer-streaming-to-watching-tv/article23647888.ece

Next Story