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Predatory pricing of the OTT Platforms harming the fiction Book Industry Globally.

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Books losing to OTT platforms

Predatory pricing of the OTT Platforms harming the fiction Book Industry Globally. 

The article title might sound strange. How is the pricing strategy of an OTT platform like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar affecting the business of an age-old book publishing industry? This is not a new phenomenon. Let us explain this. 

Both OTT platform and a fiction book Publisher is targeting customers who are interested in fictional based stories. 

Though, the medium in which the content is created and consumed could be different for both industries, for one, it is stories written in text and image format printed on a book or a digital reading device, and for the other, it is content in an audio-visual format. Both these industries are trying to get the share of customer’s time by engaging with fictional content. 

By fictional content we mean romance, thrillers, fantasy, horror, history, sci-fi and more.

Now, the obvious argument is that, not all readers watch OTTs and vice versa, but, we cannot neglect the strong overlap in the end users both these industries are targeting. 

Predatory pricing of the OTT Platforms harming the book sales in fiction 

All the major OTT Platforms across the globe like Netflix, Amazon prime, hotstar are in a pricing war. The competition is so fierce that these companies are not just accelerating the content acquisition, but, also at the same time spending extremely high marketing budgets acquiring new customers. The Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) for OTTs have increased considerably as they try to tap in all mobile phone users in every corner of this world.

You could buy access to a huge reservoir of content on these OTT platforms for an entire month at the cost of buying one Paperback book. 

In India, OTTs are costing around 100 – 200Rs monthly for a mobile user and the majority of the paperback books cost much more than this on platforms like Amazon and flipkart to be delivered at your door-step. 

Reduced Attention span amongst young people.

Recent reports claim that humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. We could credit this shortfall mostly to social media pushing shorter content to its end users. This could be debated as a chicken and hen story. Did social media push us towards a shorter attention span or was it because we were losing attention span and hence these platforms came up with reels and shorts? 

An average content on an OTT platform is around 22 mins to 50 mins for an episode (series) and 90 mins to 150mins for a movie. On the contrary, a book with 200 -240 pages at normal speed could take 240 mins to 600mins. Largely depends on the reading speed. This is not the case with an OTT. 

mad over content services

Trend in the Traditional publishing industry. 

Audio books are yet another trend, falling in between books and OTTs, they appeal to the auditory audience. Many top corporates and publishing brands are already ahead of the race. Amazon’s has deeply invested on ‘Audible’, Harper is exploring audiobooks with ‘Storytel’, ‘Kukufm’, is acquiring local language content in audiobook format, 

Brands like Notion Press and sharing stories are trying to overcome these challenges by offering User Generated Content (UGC ), replacing traditional printed magazines. wherein readers can read stories in the form of Blog series, much like an OTT web series. Wherein fresh content gets uploaded periodically. This increases curiosity and at the same time helps address the issue of shorter attention span of its end users. The Digital solution makes in inexpensive and offers a wide range of content at disposal. 

Book Summaries, is yet another attempt to cater to the audience with lesser attention span, though primarily focused on non-fiction books, there are some popular fictional books that has book summaries. 

Abilash Geetha Balan, founder of Sharing stories ( a community of writers and a Digital book promotion and marketing firm sees this as an inevitable transition to the way in which books (stories) will be perceived in the future. With content getting cheaper and easier to access and also the growing awareness amongst the youth in developed countries towards nature and sustainability, the transition towards consuming content in a digital device like an e-book reader, mobile phones and tablets is going to be quicker than anticipated. 

Impact on fictional writers and fiction book publishers.

This trend will have a huge impact on fictional books. Fictional writers should start writing content keeping in mind a movie or a series adaptation to survive in a drowning industry. More fiction writers shall migrate from authors to screenplay writers, which is an extremely good sign for the OTTs, but not so much so for the publishing industry. This is the perfect time for startups to explore the possibility to address the concern in the industry. 


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