India's Investment in Video Content Surges 24 Percent as Streaming Battle Intensifies

Mumbai Gateway to India - Getty - H 2018
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As competition for audiences and talent heats up in Southeast Asia, a study finds that India tops the region in terms of video content budgets, including TV and online video, reaching $3.6 billion in 2018.

Video content budgets across India, Korea and Southeast Asia grew by 12 percent in 2018 to reach $10 billion, driven by the battle for streaming subscribers, according to a study by Media Partners Asia titled “Asia Video Content Dynamics.”

It tracked video content investment, production and consumption, including for TV and online video, across India, Korea and Southeast Asia’s five biggest growth markets — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

MPA vp Stephen Laslocky pointed out that "investment in online video content continues to scale, up 60 percent in aggregate to reach $858 million across the seven surveyed markets, powered by rapid growth in India, boosted by Amazon, Hotstar and Netflix in particular."

Total video content budget spending in India reached $3.6 billion in 2018, an increase of 24 percent over 2017. Laslocky said that "online video accounted for 14 percent of all video content spend in India last year, the highest proportion of all our surveyed markets."

Indonesia and Vietnam also generated double-digit growth in video content investment last year, although spending in Malaysia and the Philippines was flat to down

The study particularly highlighted the overall growth in the key content hubs of India and Korea, which together accounted for more than 75 percent of video content spend across the report’s seven surveyed markets.

The increased investment in India was largely driven by spending on sports rights given the popularity of cricket, particularly the Indian Premier League, which streams on Hotstar, part of Fox's Star India network and now owned by Disney.

When the IPL broadcast and digital rights came up for renewal in 2017, Star India outbid competitors including previous rights holder Sony Television, bagging the coveted property for a record $2.55 billion for five seasons.

Video budgets in Korea expanded at a more modest but still solid rate of 7.2 percent to $3.2 billion in 2018, buoyed by increased investment on movies and pay TV content characterized by rising film production costs and ever-improving production values.

"Compared with India, there is more balanced competition between TV majors in Korea, helping foster creative diversity," said the study explaining that Korea’s online video sector "is underweight, due to a thriving TVOD market that captures a large slice of audience time and spend." The study also pointed out that "Netflix is starting to drive growth in Korea’s online video sector however, with an eye on local, regional and global distribution."

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, "notable pockets of growth" for video content investment included Indonesia, where budgets expanded 13 percent in 2018 to $800 million and Vietnam, where investment grew 11 percent  in 2018 to $500 million.

“The outlook remains healthy across much of Asia for the video content industry, with aggregate budgets scaling up in TV, film and online video across our surveyed markets," said Laslocky.

While underscoring the growth in India and Korea, he also pointed that there were "pockets of pressure in other markets, however, especially for incumbent free-to-air broadcasters in Malaysia and the Philippines, where TV budgets were reined in" and that "falls in TV viewership have been especially pronounced in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, largely precipitated by digital competition as viewers flee marginal TV channels."