OTT platform full form, best OTT platforms in India, and more questions answered

Here's everything you need to know about some of the best online streaming services in India.

Highlights

  • OTT platforms are the offsprings of the internet
  • OTT services let you stream movies and TV shows on smart devices
  • Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ Hotstar are among the popular OTT platforms available in India

OTT platforms/streaming services have seen outrageous growth in India as well as other parts of the world over the past few years. They are close to overtaking cable and satellite pay-TV. According to reports, the video streaming service market size could balloon up to Rs 4,000 crore by the end of 2025. As of July 2020, India had as many as 29 crores OTT platform users. But, what is an OTT platform? What does OTT stand for? Are OTT media services paid? Which are the best OTT platforms in India? These are some of the questions we have tried to answer here. Read on to find out.

Also read: Netflix subscription plans and offers in India 2021

OTT platform full form/ meaning

OTT stands for ‘over-the-top’, which refers to any media service that provides streaming of video content like TV shows and movies via app or website over the internet instead of traditional distribution networks such as cable and DTH. The OTTs initially started as the content hosting platforms, but soon dived into making originals of their own. You need an internet connection and a compatible hardware component, which can be your mobile phones, tablets, laptops, or smart TVs, to watch the content. One can stream OTT content any time via these platforms instead of following a guide or waiting for their favourite shows and movies to air. This is among the many reasons why OTT platforms are gaining popularity.

OTT should not be confused with VOD video-on-demand service. The latter also allows you to stream videos on different devices, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be through the internet. VOD can also refer to the users’ downloaded files and even recorded DVR content. OTT is specific to the internet and its content is generally unavailable elsewhere.

Best OTT apps/ platforms apps in India

OTT services in India are one too many, and if you’re not familiar with them, it can be a hassle choosing the best one for you. Selecting an OTT platform depends on the kind of content you’d like to stream. For TV shows, movies, and sports, you have Sony Liv and Disney+ Hotstar, while Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are home to some of the best original shows and movies. You have Voot, MX Player, Zee5, and other OTT platforms in India for regional content. We’ve created a list of the top 10 OTT platforms that are available in India right now, with their subscription plans prices and benefits. Take a look:

1. Disney+ Hotstar

Disney+ Hotstar is arguably the most popular OTT platform in India. The streaming service, now owned by Walt Disney, has a vast catalogue of content that is divided across movies, TV shows, web series, sports, kids content, and news. With Disney owning the service, you also get access to Marvel, Star Wars, and tons of Disney animated movies and shows. Disney+ Hotstar is compatible with both iOS and Android devices as well as PCs and smart TV. To stream content from this OTT platform, you need to subscribe to one of its plans. Disney+ Hotstar subscription is available with two plans: VIP and Premium, which are priced starting at Rs 299. The Premium account lets you stream the entire library of the OTT media service, including the original Disney titles and OTT releases. Check out the complete details here: Disney Plus Hotstar subscription plans and offers India 2021.

2. Netflix

Netflix needs no introduction. The American over-the-top content platform has delivered tons of exceptional and highly-streamed original shows and movies, such as Sacred Games, The Queen’s Gambit, Stranger Things, and so on. There are a variety of Netflix subscription plans, namely Mobile, Basic, Standard, and Premium, which starts at just Rs 199 a month. The Netflix plans in India differ in terms of resolution and number of simultaneous viewing, while the catalogue of the content remains the same. Much like Disney+ Hotstar, Netflix work on mobile phones, streaming devices, smart TVs, tablets, and PCs. The good thing about Netflix is that it’s completely ad-free. To find out more, read: Netflix subscription plans and offers in India 2021.

3. Amazon Prime Video

The subscription to Amazon Prime Video is free with the e-commerce platform’s Prime membership, which also includes free Amazon Prime Music subscription alongside unlimited free and quick delivery, exclusive deals and discounts, and access to e-books. The OTT platform Prime Videos is known in India for its original web series such as Mirzapur, The Family Man, Tandav, Paatal Lok, and One-Mic Stand, among others. It’s also home to some critically-acclaimed international TV shows and movies, regional content, Bollywood, kids content, and iconic TV shows. Besides English, Prime Video is available in six other Indian languages at the moment. Amazon Prime membership costs Rs 129 a month and Rs 999 a year.

4. Zee5

Zee5 is another popular OTT platform in India. It’s a home-grown video streaming service, owned by Essel Group, that offers a mix of originals, shows, music, and movies in 12 languages and has a bespoke catalogue of premium content for audiences across India. Zee5 also leverages its partnership with ALTBalaji whose originals, shows, and movies are available for free to ZEE5 subscribers. The streaming service subscription plans start for as low as Rs 99 a month. Click on the link to know ZEE5 subscription plans 2021 prices, best offers, benefits, Airtel and Vodafone-Idea bundled plans.

5. Sony Liv

Sony Liv has over 18 years of content such as TMKOC and The Kapil Sharma Show from channels that are part of the Sony Entertainment Network, such as Sony TV, Sony SAB, Sony Ten, Sony Max, Sony Max 2, Sony Six, Sony Pix, and Sony Yay. You can also livestream WWE, European football, La Liga, Champions League, and other sporting events that are broadcasted live on Sony SIX, Sony TEN 1, Sony TEN 2, and Sony TEN 3 channels via the OTT platform in India. The Sony Liv app is also subscription-based, with its plans in India starting at just Rs 199 a month.

6. Voot

This major OTT platform in India is owned by Viacom18, which also runs several TV channels in the country such as Colors, and produces films. Voot brings all these programs under one roof, much like Sony Liv. You can stream all Viacom18 TV shows and movies via the platform’s app and website at any time and from anywhere. Initially, Voot was a free-of-cost streaming service, but now the company has introduced plans at Rs 99 per month and at Rs 999 per year.

7. AltBalaji

AltBalaji has also carved out a niche for itself in the Indian OTT platform industry. The streaming service offers a number of original web series and movies, mostly 18+, in Hindi and a variety of regional languages such as Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, and many more. AltBalaji subscription plans are as follows: Rs 100 for three months, Rs 180 for six months, and Rs 300 for a year.

8. JioCinema

JioCinema is a video-on-demand OTT service from Mukesh Ambani-promoted telco Jio. The platform is exclusive to Jio users only, with no additional charges. The catalogue of JioCinema content includes movies, TV shows, Jio exclusives, documentaries and trailers. Jio recently also partnered with Disney India to offer popular Disney movies like Toy Story 3, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, and more. 

9. MX Player

MX Player has come a long way from being just a video player. It’s now among the best OTT platforms in India. MX Player provides users with syndicated content along with its own originals. While the streaming service is completely free of cost, it does interrupt your experience by showing ads in between consuming content.

10. YouTube Premium

YouTube as a streaming device is very popular, but little would know that the platform has its original shows. These shows are exclusive with YouTube Premium subscription plan, which is priced at Rs 129 per month and Rs 399 for three months. This is for a single user. There are also plans for a family with up to five members and students. The latter is priced at Rs 79 a month, while the family plan costs Rs 189 per month. Moreover, Premium customers do not have to watch any sort of ads and also get access to the YouTube Music service.

Rise of OTT platforms

The lockdown induced by COVID-19 saw the consumption of online content increase manifolds. Before that, OTTs in India had a niche market. As the cinema halls were shut, several users switched to OTT platforms for entertainment. Even producers found it feasible to release their films via streaming services to cut down on losses. ‘OTT release’ became quite normal for films last year. However, with the things getting back to normal and the cinema halls now allowed to operate with 100 percent capacity, the OTT release may come down a little this year. While this shouldn’t affect the business of OTT platforms much, it’ll definitely take some audience away who loves to watch movies on the big screen in cinema halls.

OTT platforms FAQs

How do I access to OTT platforms?

OTT platforms can be accessed via an app or website, which works on pretty much any device out there that supports the internet. As long as you’re connected, you can stream content from these platforms.

Are OTT platforms paid and do they require login?

Most OTT platforms are paid and require a login to stream content. Some OTT streaming services offer a 30-day trial that lets you stream the content for free for the initial month. Thereafter, you’re charged with the subscription fee, which is deducted automatically from your account, if you wish to continue. That said, Airtel, Jio, and Vi offer a free subscription to most OTT platforms in India.

Which is the cheapest OTT platform in India?

Among the best OTT platforms in India, Zee5 is the cheapest. This is followed by Sony Liv and Disney+ Hotstar VIP.

Which telecom operator or service offers the most OTT app subscription?

Jio sits right on top in this freebie. The Mukesh Ambani-promoted telco’s broadband service Jio Fiber offers a complimentary subscription to as many as 15 apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, Sony LIV, ZEE5, Sun NXT, Voot, and ALTBalaji, among other. This is followed by Airtel, Vi, and other ISPs.

Read more: Airtel broadband plans: List of Airtel Xstream Fiber plans, benefits, and validity in India 2021

Which OTT platform has the highest number of Hollywood movies?

That would be Netflix, followed by Disney+ Hotstar Premium and Amazon Prime Videos.

Which OTT platform has the highest number of Hindi movies?

This should be Netflix, then Amazon Prime Video and Zee5.

Which OTT apps offer live cricket streaming in India?

Live cricket streaming such as IPL is mostly on Disney+ Hotstar and Sony LIV. The platforms also provide live coverage of other sporting events such as football, tennis, badminton, Olympics, and more.

OTT platforms with regional content

Hoichoi (Bengali), Sun NXT (South Indian languages), Aha (Telugu), Planet Marathi (Marathi), Koode (Malayalam), Addatimes (Bengali), and CityShor.TV (Gujarati), among others.

How do OTT platforms make money?

The main source of income for OTT platforms is through subscription. In addition to that, some OTT services make money via ads and downloads. While it looks like the earnings would be great, OTT platforms often operate in negative cash flow. They have to buy the content from other production houses to attract users.

Who regulates OTT platforms in India?

Last year, the government brought the video streaming OTT platforms under the ambit of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The ministry is said to monitor the working of these platforms in the country. Additionally, it’s believed that the OTT platforms would have to apply for certification and approval of the content they wish to stream from the ministry.