CTV Devices Overtake Traditional TV for Watching Video in India

Dan Meier 28 February, 2024 

As rumours swirl around an imminent mega merger between Disney India and Reliance Industries, new research has revealed a seismic shift towards online video in India. Internet-connected devices have overtaken traditional TV as the nation’s most popular method for watching video content, according to Kantar and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

The ‘Internet in India Report 2023’ report found that internet penetration has reached 820 million active users, a year-on-year increase of 8 percent. And video/audio streaming was identified as the most popular online activity among Indian internet users.

According to the findings, 208 million individuals exclusively use connected devices to watch video, versus 181 million using conventional TVs. The report revealed that 707 million internet users now regularly use over-the-top (OTT) audio and video services, which is roughly half of the Indian population.

Accompanying that shift to online video, the research identified a sharp rise in the adoption of smart devices, including Smart TVs, streaming devices and TV sticks. According to the study, the use of connected devices in India has grown by 58 percent between 2021 and 2023.

India’s young population is a key driving force behind the rapid growth of its internet user base, with under-25s making up almost half of the nation’s population. The study found that after video and audio, the most popular online activities were communication (621 million users) and social media (575 million users).

iamai report

Room to grow

This rapid growth makes India a key target for streaming companies, with Reliance Industries and Disney set to merge their Indian streaming services, in a deal expected to be announced this week.

Meanwhile online ad revenues in India are forecast for 12.7 percent annual growth between now and 2027, according to recent analysis by Omdia. YouTube and Meta are expected to see their video ad revenues in India grow in the mid- to high-teen percentages until 2025.

But the Kantar/IAMAI study suggests there are further opportunities for local players to tap into this user growth. The report highlights the role of rural areas in the rise of India’s internet user base; while growth rates have slowed in urban areas since the pandemic, rural India now accounts for 50 percent of internet users. And states with the lowest penetration rates (including Jharkhand and Bihar) are among the fastest-growing, indicating potential for further growth in those regions.

The research also found that regional language users account for 57 percent of the total internet user base, creating opportunities to reach audiences outside of English-speaking content. According to Indian trade organisation FICCI, the share of video content available in regional languages is expected to reach 54 percent this year, up from 27 percent in 2020.

The gender ratio of internet users has also shifted to fall roughly in line with the overall population in India. According to the research, internet users were just 29 percent female in 2015, rising to 46 percent in recent years.

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