SonyLIV's Ad Head Explains Why Subscription-Only Models Don't Work For Most OTT Platforms

While OTT platforms in India grapple with the subscription vs. advertising conundrum, SonyLIV, the OTT offering from Sony Pictures Networks India, believes in embracing both. Their diverse content palette, from sports and music to fiction, offers brands a golden ticket to either sponsor or weave themselves seamlessly into the narrative.

Unique strategy: Speaking to Mint, Ranjana Mangla, the head of ad revenue at SonyLIV, shared her insights, “The pandemic was a game-changer. Consumption skyrocketed, and we realized it’s not about choosing between advertising and subscriptions. It’s about harmonizing both.”

She emphasized that while some content is premium, other shows, especially reality ones, are magnets for brands struggling to stand out in a saturated market.

Reflecting on SonyLIV’s transformative journey since June 2020, dubbed its ‘2.0 phase’, Mangla highlighted how reality shows have become a bridge connecting the traditional TV audience and the burgeoning OTT viewership. Shows like “Kaun Banega Crorepati” and events like the Asian Games have attracted sponsors who see the potential in this dual reach.

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A broader trend? Mangla’s observations resonate with a broader industry trend. With the Indian audience’s sensitivity to price, relying solely on subscriptions might be a risky move. Platforms are now leaning towards ad-supported models. Giants like Amazon are already dipping their toes in this space, while others like ZEE5 offer a mix of free and premium content.

Highlighting a future trend, Mangla touched upon the rising popularity of connected TV sets, expecting them to reach 40 million households in India within the next 18 months. “It’s the crème de la crème of viewership. The engagement is thrice that of mobile, making it a goldmine for brands,” she remarked.

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