How do online video platforms decide what their viewers might want to watch?

The second round table Voot presents vdonxt asia week examines how these platforms are developing their recommendation technology to help viewers choose their favorite content.

In 2021, the OTT universe in India saw the release of 350 movies and web series – 125 direct to OTT movies and 225 original web series. Other than that, there are plenty of catch-up TV content, YouTube and Vimeo content, sports video content, and then social media. With so much content available online, audiences are truly spoiled for choice. How do viewers navigate this virtual sea to decide what they want to watch? This would be impossible without recommendation engines that always seem to know your preferences.

Voot’s second roundtable features vdonxt asia Week examines how platforms decide what viewers may want to watch. Moderated by Shailesh Kapoor, Founder and CEO of Ormax Media, the panel included Deepak Salvi, Co-Founder and COO, Chingari, Pankaj Mittal, Director of Engineering, Vimeo, Radhakrishnan Ramachandran, Founder and CEO, Koode and Vishnu Mohta, co-founder at Hoichoi.

Being one of the first independent OTT platforms in India, Mohta shared his experience of building an engagement strategy for the viewer. He said their experience was all about catching up.

“I don’t think anyone has a full understanding of that. It’s a constant evolution on the data science front. In addition, many technologies are now available for free. A predictive model of customers likely to pay for content can be made with 80-90% accuracy with much of this technology available for free. It’s how you implement it with your data set,” he said.

The situation is very different on social media where content is shorter and stickiness is an issue. Salvi shared his perspective on striking a balance between increasing viewer time and acquiring new viewers.

He said, “From the initial period, our goal was to get the commitment time. Our engagement time is 40-45 minutes. If I’m getting subscribers and not giving them good content and good content suggestions, then what’s the point of having more subscribers on board. Coming from the content background, the insights also help us create the shorter format. We weren’t focusing on top tier creators, we were focusing on creating an army of creators. Technology also helped – we hired top talent from the international and Indian market to work on AI ML.

Over the past two years, audiences have also opened up to exploring content in other languages. It brought people with different tastes to one platform. Ramachandran said they currently depend on YouTube to understand the content choices of audiences with such different tastes.

“For us, YouTube is the Bible. We manage over 500 million subscribers across multiple genres and multiple languages. So as a data point, we’re always going back to YouTube and finding out what content people are watching. C t is a very early stage for us as we are barely a year old. We are trying to create a clean and organized mini YouTube in Malayalam. We are closer to YouTube than an OTT. So we are trying to identify creators of the YouTube or social media ecosystem. We identify them pretty early on and work with them to take a few steps above and create content that sits between YouTube and Netflix. That’s the model we’ve been pursuing,” a- he declared.

Mittal said Vimeo no longer competes with YouTube because it now focuses on creators, not viewers. “When Vimeo started, it was a competitor to YouTube. But we can’t compete with those big players, so Vimeo changed the strategy along the way. Vimeo is no longer a viewer-centric platform, but creator-centric. Vimeo offers high-quality content because many filmmakers, photographers, and video creators are on Vimeo rather than YouTube. Most people who switch from YouTube to Vimeo want a tool that’s clutter-free and ad-free. “, did he declare.

Watch the full discussion here:

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