The unfolding revolution in India's short video market

By Lata Jha
India currently has more than 50 million users who have created and posted at least one short clip on the video platforms.istock

NEW DELHI : Dismiss clips of slapathons, lipsynced songs and a quick dance at own peril: more and more Indians are watching short videos on apps such as Instagram Reels and Moj; and for longer durations.

The short-form video (SFV) market for user-generated videos or those made by influencers for apps such as Moj, MX Taka Tak, Roposo, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts has expanded 3.5 times in user base in the past two years.

The total time spent on short-video platforms has gone up by 12 times.

Though the short form may seem buzzy and ubiquitous, it is really long-format videos—films and web shows on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Disney+Hotstar—that have a wider penetration with 350-400 million users. However, short-form video users stand at no less than 200 million.

According to the findings of a recent report by global management consultancy Bain & Co., India’s total online video user base has scaled to more than 350 million people. That’s a 24% growth from 2018 to 2020 and twice as fast as China and Indonesia.

The time spent on online videos per daily active user per day has increased by 60-70% over this period. In fact, 55% of the time spent online is on entertainment, of which videos constitute 35-40%.

Despite this rapid boom, there exists massive headroom for growth—online video user penetration in India is only around 60% of Internet users, compared with more than 90% in China, the report said.

More than 200 million Indians watched short videos at least once in 2020, with an active user spending up to 45 minutes a day on these platforms. Rapidly growing internet access with cheap data, easy-to-use platforms and a high proportion of vernacular content will aid short video scale-up in India.

By 2025, three in four internet users, or 600 million to 650 million Indians, will consume such content, spending up to an hour every day watching short-form videos. Less data consumption via advanced video compression and easy-to-use interfaces will help further.

Indian short-video platforms rushed to take advantage of the 2020 ban on TikTok, and India currently has more than 50 million users who have created and posted at least one short video. These creators are present across platforms and are increasingly monetizing their follower base through brand collaborations and commerce.

Five platforms—Moj, MX TakaTak, Josh, Roposo and Zili—have more than 100 million downloads each and account for 85% of the combined monthly active user base of specialist short-video platforms or those part of parent firms with multiple apps.

India’s short-video users are largely men from tier-2 and smaller towns, who make up 70-75% of the base, but this is evolving quickly, with the medium gaining traction in metros and among women, the report said.

“Democratization of content on short-video platforms is helping unearth hidden creative talent in India. Short-video platforms and new businesses are offering to address creator needs right from training, content creation support, relationship management, to monetization, financing and analytics. The wheels for the creator economy in India are already set in motion and it is expected to boom in the years to come," said Arpan Sheth, senior partner at Bain and one of the authors of the report.

Long-form videos, too have seen substantial growth, with users and usage increasing nearly 1.5 times from 2018 to 2020. Active users today spend more than 2.5 hours per day with lockdowns and stay-at-home advisories during the pandemic having propelled these numbers.

LFV is poised to grow to 600-650 million users in India by 2025, accelerated by regional content. ““The lines between Short Form Video and Long-Form video are blurring. Players will utilize both short and long-form content to compete for a share of consumer time, although consumers’ occasion for both may be different," said Manan Bhasin, associate partner and leader in Bain’s consumer products, retail, strategy and digital practices.

LVF players that have adopted four monetization strategies, including SVoD (subscription video-on-demand), AVoD (advertising video-on-demand), freemium (some content available with ads and others via subscription) and TVoD (transaction video-on-demand or pay-per-view), will focus on building exclusive and original content and delivering a hyper-personalized experience through user behaviour profiling and artificial intelligence-based algorithms, Bhasin added.

The report estimates that monthly active users of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video stand at 35-40 million and 50-60 million respectively. While the number for Disney+Hotstar is close to 120-130 million, the figure for YouTube MAUs stands at 330-350 million. 

 


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