Amazon Prime has recently acquired the rights to screen all international cricket matches that take place during the 2025-2026 season. This includes two international tours that are due to be made by the Indian cricket team. These events have caused much discussion about the potential growth of the live streaming of sports by OTT services in India.
It’s not just these services that provide live streaming to customers either. Offshore sportsbooks, one of them being Dafabet, also provide this service to sports fans in India. In many cases, this gives people the opportunity to place a bet while they are watching the action. So, is OTT ready to take over screening sports in India, or are Direct to Home (DTH) cable options still the main choice for viewers?
Views on the performance of OTT operators in India
There are differing views when it comes to the performance of OTT platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix in India. Neo Sports founder Harish Thawani recently stated that he did not think the market was ready for OTT sports content right now. He cited several reasons for his belief, including the fact that the Facebook La Liga experiment and Fancode’s deal with the Bundesliga, had not worked well. He also noted that the viewing figures for the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Disney+ Hotstar had not been amazing.
Thawani went on to state that he felt the OTT market was more suitable for niche sports. They could potentially benefit from airtime that they would find it difficult to acquire from a mainstream broadcaster. So Thawani is definitely of the opinion that the time is not right for OTT in sports generally in India right now.
However, there is data that suggests that OTT is starting to make an impact in India. A survey conducted by MoMAGIC, in 2019, found that 55% of respondents preferred to use OTT services as opposed to 41% who preferred traditional DTH viewing. Of course, this does not just refer to sports viewing but it’s interesting to see a different viewpoint.
Challenges to OTT viewing in India
Despite the findings of the MoMAGIC survey, there are currently obstacles that are likely to prevent OTT from taking over as a major sport viewing choice in India. Although the younger population in the country are embracing the thought of cutting the cord, the lack of reliable Internet connection across the country makes this difficult in practice.
Also, there are many people, especially in older generations, who do not have the digital knowledge to use OTT services. Large numbers of people also like to watch regional content which is often only available when using DTH services.
Finally, the cost is a consideration for many people. It’s sometimes more affordable for people in India to pay one subscription for DTH services rather than several subscriptions to OTT providers. Smart TVs are also not affordable for many viewers, so they are left having to watch content on a smaller screen which is not the best option for a lot of people.
Overall, the current situation in India seems to favour the use of DTH services rather than OTT providers when it comes to watching live sport. However, this may not always be the case if the situation regarding Internet connectivity, digital awareness, and affordability changes.