Non-Streaming Apps Look Towards Entertainment: A Marketing Analysis
Just a few years ago, online streaming was considered to be an unconventional medium of entertainment. Since then, the Internet has expanded tremendously and Web Entertainment has moved from being ‘new’ to becoming the ‘norm’.
India, too, has seen its Web Industry grow exponentially, especially over the past five years. It has become an attractive market for Web Entertainment, leading to emergence of homegrown streaming platforms (ALTBalaji, ZEE5, Voot, SonyLIV, Hotstar, etc.), as well as the entry of international giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, among others.
The Start of Something New…
Today, mobile phones have become real estate for apps, and there is a constant battle to occupy space on the phone, as well as time spent on it. This has led to the emergence of ‘Super Apps’ – apps that provide multiple services in one place.
Major players are venturing into new related and unrelated markets, leading to tough competition, where large and international companies have the potential to eat into the shares of smaller homegrown ones. For example, Amazon India is now planning to enter into food delivery, a move that can seriously hurt Zomato, Swiggy, and Uber Eats. The survivability of the existing players in their dedicated market depends on how they manage to retain their customer loyalty, while also continuing to improve their position further. To ensure their continued existence, apps are now looking for new strategies and plans to hold onto their customer base.
With the digital space turning into such a battlefield, there’s a new unconventional trend that can be seen happening on the once-unconventional Web. Apps that are dedicated to something entirely different (like e-commerce, shopping, transactions, food delivery, etc.) are jumping onto the streaming bandwagon and announcing the start of content streaming on their platforms.
Will it be a successful venture? What is their aim and why are they deviating from their target industry to streaming? Do they plan to take on the giants? What do they gain? Let’s have a look.
The Walmart-owned e-commerce and online shopping platform, Flipkart, first introduced a loyalty and rewards programme called Flipkart Plus as a means to attract customers by guaranteeing rewards for their loyalty. It was similar to its rival Amazon’s Prime membership, but lacked the ‘video’ aspect. Flipkart now wants to fill that gap by introducing a free (yes!) streaming service of its own. However, Flipkart will source content from other production houses, and original content may only come into consideration later.
Using the ‘video’ form of entertainment to turn viewers into customers seems to be the goal. It has the potential to grab the youth’s attention towards the e-commerce service (Flipkart also offers free ‘Plus’ services to students), and Flipkart has set its eyes on the target of 200 million customers from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. Also, unlike Amazon, Flipkart provides its streaming services within the same app.
The multimedia messaging app, Snapchat, which has taken the global youth by storm, had its growth credited to its fancy filters, lenses, and snap stories. To keep the users hooked onto the app, Snapchat has also started releasing original content under ‘Snap Originals’ – which includes original shows that tell interesting stories through either text-based format or video.
For viewing convenience on smartphones, the shows are also shot vertically. Other than content sponsorship deals with several Indian media and entertainment companies, Snapchat has already launched 3 Snap Originals in India in partnership with TVF and Girliyapa, titled Gossip Girls, What a Player, and Style Wagon.
The digital wallet and online transaction app, Paytm, has already expanded its brand to include an e-commerce shopping portal (Paytm Mall), a gaming portal (Paytm First Games), an investment portal (Paytm Money), a payments bank, as well as a point-of-sale system.
Paytm has also added features such as Live television, News, Cricket, and short entertainment videos to its compendium of services. Now, Paytm has also announced its plans to venture into OTT and streaming, and is said to be expecting to launch its platform soon. This puts Paytm in serious competition with both Flipkart and Amazon, as it boasts of a growing customer base and extensions into various sectors.
The restaurant discovery and food delivery app, Zomato, is also bringing Food and Entertainment together within its app through its new offering, Zomato Originals. Zomato’s Original shows will revolve primarily around food, and will be spread across genres like comedy, health advice, fiction, as well as celeb interviews
Zomato has already released the first six out of its planned eighteen Originals, which will roll-out over three months. The newly released Originals include: Food and You with Sanjeev Kapoor; Banake Dikha (with Sumukhi Suresh); Grandmaster Chef with Sahil Shah; Starry meals with Janice; Dude, where’s the food? (with Jordindian); and Race Against the App (ft. Neville Shah, Aadar Malik and Kautuk Srivastava). Like Snap Originals, Zomato Originals will be in a vertical format, giving you an excuse to binge on delicious food as well as entertaining content.
Other than these, the travel-based app Ixigo has ventured into ‘video’ content as well, by adding an ‘Entertainment and News’ section on its app, which will allow streaming of original series like its first, Zindagi Express, as well as music, movies, sports, news, etc.
Behind the Screens
The step taken by non-streaming apps towards video content has reasons behind it. Video content is attractive and popular, and quality content increases the time a consumer spends on an app. This, in turn, provides the brand opportunities to create exposure towards their primary services, leading to better business. Once successful, video content can also independently become a source of revenue for the brand.
For now, streaming content seems to be an experiment for non-streaming brands. The apps are already used frequently for their designated primary purposes, which makes it a possibility that video content on these apps may arouse interest. The food delivery app, Zomato, seems to be going on the right path with its ‘Zomato Originals’, featuring healthy recipes and cuisines, topped with entertainment as well as the celebrity factor. Once people who use Zomato see such content, they may opt to give it a watch, and possibly get hooked. Flipkart seems to be adopting the strategy of tempting its target of 200 million customers with free video streaming, which can be used to push the e-commerce business further. Paytm, too, will use streaming to bring light to Paytm Mall and other services, that are trying to fight the big fight.
Non-streaming apps do not plan to compete with well-established brands in the streaming world. They don’t have enough budgets yet to focus on streaming at a major level (which also includes the advertising and marketing costs associated with it), without severely affecting their primary business.
Introduction of streaming and similar value-added services to their platforms, for now, is purely a marketing strategy that aims to add to their efforts in retaining their existing customer base, gain more visibility, and ensure their survival in the face of major competition.