• Inside the Stream Podcast: In India, Two Initiatives Preview Streaming’s Future

    This week we go on a “field trip” to India, where a battle between multibillionaires - at the intersection of streaming, marquee sports, mobile, commerce and FASTs - provides a glimpse of the future.

    First up, we discuss news that Viacom18 Media Pvt. a joint venture between Paramount Global and multibillionaire Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd., the most valuable company in India - which in 2021 won the rights, for $2.7 billion, to stream the hugely popular Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket games - and intends to do so for free to consumers.

    Viacom18 Media actually poached the IPL streaming rights from Disney, which had them previously and used the games to drive Disney+ Hotstar subscriptions. Disney's direct-to-consumer strategy remains murky as Colin and I discussed 2 weeks ago.

    The move underscores trends that Colin and I have discussed extensively around marquee sports moving from broadcast/cable to streaming (most recently in January, with fuboTV's CEO David Gandler) and the accelerating pace of free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST).

    Next, we discuss “miniTV,” a set of freely available video content that is placed front and center within Amazon India’s shopping app. While miniTV, which launched in May, 2021 got off to a modest start, apparently in 2022, its first full year of operations, it has picked up momentum. This is due to the popularity of certain original programming that Amazon has invested in.

    Amazon’s strategy of purposely giving away premium video for free parallels what it has done with Prime Video, investing heavily in originals like “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” without seeking to directly monetize them. Rather, Amazon uses its massive commerce business to subsidize the cost of content creation, because it has been able to demonstrate to itself that video drives higher levels of Prime acquisition/retention, and Prime members buy more stuff from Amazon, of course.

    Jeff Bezos articulated this “flywheel” in an interview with Walt Mossberg at the Code Conference in 2016, putting as fine a point on it as one can imagine, by famously saying “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes” (start at the 36:56 mark for the segment). Amazon’s approach to subsidizing video is virtually inimitable, except perhaps by Apple and Google, and should justifiably strike terror in the heart of every media company CEO.

    In India, with miniTV, we are seeing Amazon run the same playbook, except absent a Prime membership requirement, and with a more specific focus on mobile consumption, primarily by younger viewers. If media company CEOs around the world were not already on high alert from Prime Video, miniTV should put them on an immediate DEFCON 1 footing.

    (As a side note, I believe that another flywheel, in CTV advertising, is also developing, as I wrote back in June, 2021. Speakers at next week’s VideoNuze CTV Advertising PREVIEW: 2023 will emphatically drive this home. Note, complimentary sign up is available.)

    Last but not least, and at the risk of stating the obvious: Bezos’s net worth currently stands at approximately $120 billion, while Ambani’s is around $84 billion. In short, both of them bring essentially unlimited resources to the streaming game, free to subsidize anything they believe is in their companies’ long-term interests. The stakes in streaming have never been as high and only the deepest-pocketed need apply.

    The two initiatives in India are a preview of streaming’s future. As I said, DEFCON 1.

    Pack your bags for the trip to India, and listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 20 seconds)

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