Telcos are focussing on app and content platforms to attract subscribers. Analysts, however, said whether a subscription model for the over-the-top (OTT) platforms is a sustainable model to arrest their falling Arpus is doubtful. Currently, Jio commands the highest ARPU at Rs 134, while the rest hover between Rs 100 and Rs 105.
According to FICCI-EY’s Reimagining India report 2018, paid TV and OTT consumers are expected to increase from 6 million in 2017 to 20 million by 2020, while mass consumption will rise from 200 million to 500 million by 2020.
“Although we are witnessing a surge in data consumption, monetisation of the mobile app ecosystem is hampered by poor infrastructure, challenges in payment channels and low spending. But, with improving digital payment channels and availability of services on the move, we expect the ecosystem to mature over the medium term,” said Pranav Kshatriya of Edelweiss Research in a report.
He added players such as Bharti Airtel and Jio are better placed to tap into the content ecosystem. Their presence in the fixed broadband front will help them expand their reach.
Further, Reliance Jio’s recent announcement of its Jio GigaFiber service is expected to have disruptive implications for cable, direct-to-home (DTH), television broadcasting and OTT video streaming providers.
IN THE LEAD
Customer engagement levels across telecom apps remain below 25 per cent
Mobile app ecosystem is hampered by poor infrastructure
Jio apps have higher engagement due to presence across smartphones and app-enabled feature phones
Prashant Singhal, technology, media and telecom leader for emerging markets at EY, said: “It makes sense for telcos to offer content services to increase the subscriber’s wallet share. With content consumption moving to smaller screens, we will see new monetisation models emerging either through direct subscription or through the ‘freemium’ (free as well as paid) model. Already we are seeing a lot of alliances between large telcos and content producers.”
Earlier in the week, Airtel announced a strategic alliance to curate content for their customers with Zee Entertainment.
This will bring curated content for Airtel home broadband and mobile users. OTT providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime and content producers such as Eros Now
and ALTBalaji have partnerships to provide content to telco subscribers. The apps still remain under utilised by subscribers.
A large chunk of the popular apps are from the Jio universe such as MyJio, JioMusic and JioTV. This is followed closely by Idea and Airtel apps.
Part of Jio’s popularity is due to the fact that Jio users are smartphone or app-enabled phone users unlike incumbent telcos. Many of them entered the app ecosystem through the telco’s initial free services. Telcos also have their own OTT apps.
Earlier in the year, Reliance Industries (RIL) acquired a 5 per cent stake in Eros International and announced plans to consolidate content within the company. RIL’s acquisition of music platform Saavn has valued the combination of JioMusic and Saavn at almost $1 billion.
Another study by Reverie Language Technologies noted high demand for Jio apps among smartphone users apart from the regular social networking and content consumption apps across the country.