Remember the times when the streets wore a deserted look on Sunday morning because people were glued to the television watching Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan and B R Chopra's Mahabharat?

Later, as satellite television made a glorious entry into the Indian homes, the same fan following was seen cueing up for soaps like Kyunki...Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki during 2000-2001.

People would plan their daily activities in such a way that they would remain free when it was `show' time. But today it's a different story , now, people no longer have to manage their schedules and sit in front of their television set to watch their favourite shows. It is anytime anywhere policy for most working professionals and youngsters on their PCs, laptops, tablets or smartphones. A few taps on the GEC app on smartphone, and you have your favorite show sports coverage movie streaming going for you! It's just the perfect set-up for the gadget-savvy viewer, who can catch up on all the episodes she missed out.

Figures Say It All

The tech laced telly binge watching has picked up as Over The-Top (OTT) service providers have emerged in the past two years in India. In 2014, OTT subscribers were only 12 million and this number rose up to 15 million in 2015. Projecting the growth, industry reports maintain that India's active OTT video subscribers are expected to grow to 105 million by 2020. With the exponential growth in smartphone usage and the rise in 4G services, the OTT industry is set to take off in India. Thanks to these, binge watching has become a common phenomenon with onlineviewers. According to a recent research report, with a hike in 4G services in the country , consumer demand for online content will increase rapidly in the coming years. Be it Hotstar that has close to 200 million users or Netflix which claims 93 million viewership -the number is pretty much on a steep rise.

Content is the King

So what do OTT players have to say about the increase in binge watching? Ajit Mohan, CEO of an online streaming platform shares, “Diversity of content and breaking norms by providing a streaming platform, where the best TV shows from around the world, movie premieres and live sports are available, has definitely worked wonders for us. Not only that, we keep including original content time to time and we are all set to include IPL 2017 live streaming on our mobile app because marketers are recognizing its potential.“

Showmakers Give it a Thumbs Up

Showmakers are happy with this rise in internet viewing as well. Producer Yash Patnaik shares, “These days internet viewing is picking up in India. Every medium has an audience. Though internet is a futuristic medium, with good 4G service providers and better internet telecom providers, people are watching TV on a smartphones. On net viewing, what works better for professionals or youngsters is the convenience of timing to view the favourite show.“ Producer J D Majethia adds, “Internet viewing is certainly catching up and it is good for viewers who are staying abroad. We still get great feedbacks for our shows like Khichdi and Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai from online viewers.“

The Time Factor Clicks

The internet viewership is certainly a new wave ¬ not just commoners but even celebs are glued to it. Singer Benny Dayal, he says, “I live my life out of suitcases ¬ so just to stay in league, internet viewing is essential to check out the happenings around the world as well as catch up on my favourite music reality show or culinary shows or live or deferred sports' coverage as per my schedule permits me.“ Even actor Pratik Gandhi says, “I am engaged to a few web series and I love internet viewing as I keep myself updated about shows that are trending. I prefer utilizing my time between the shots or in airport lobby or travelling to shoot location by watching internet TV .“

As on-demand entertainment emerging at a rapid pace, makers and channels are already gearing up to push themselves to mint over the viewership by providing best of programming options. Via internet. - TOI