By Our Insights Desk
Earlier this month, we released our annual report Streaming Originals in India: The 2023 Story (read more and download here). The first section of this report lists the most-watched OTT originals (series & films) in India in the year 2023. Since the release of the report, we have been inundated with queries related to the definitions and the methodology followed, among other things. These queries have come from platforms, producers, talent, advertisers, journalists, etc.
This explainer lists 12 frequently-asked questions, through which we hope to answer queries related to our viewership estimates of OTT originals. We understand that you may have other queries too. We will be happy to connect with you and answer them.
1. Why does Ormax estimate viewership of OTT properties in the first place?
The OTT/streaming category has grown in India at a fast pace, on either side of the pandemic. Our annual OTT sizing report has chronicled this growth story in detail since 2021. However, despite this growth, there is no central viewership metric to gauge which shows or films have performed well, and which ones have not. Platforms put out their numbers selectively, and different platforms follow different metrics, which makes these numbers uncomparable across platforms. It has been Ormax Media's commitment over the last 15 years to create industry-level data that can lead to more informed dialogue and decision-making. Our OTT viewership estimates are a step in this direction.
2. For which type of OTT properties do you estimate viewership?
We estimate viewership of OTT originals launched at a national level (Hindi content, Indian content in English, International content), across fiction series, direct-to-streaming films, reality shows, and documentaries. Viewership is estimated for all properties that receive marketing support from their respective platforms, even if this support is entirely digital in nature. We have been estimating viewership of national launches since early 2021. From 2024, we are adding Tamil and Telugu language originals to the mix, and hope to add more languages in the coming years. We are also considering adding viewership estimates of acquired content, especially theatrical films premiering on OTT, in the future.
3. What is the methodology followed?
Our estimates are based on primary research conducted by us through the year, using online surveys. Each property is tracked for eight weeks from its launch, with a cumulative sample size of 5,200+. Respondents are asked questions about their viewership of individual properties, and this data is projected to the OTT universe established through our OTT sizing report, to estimate the viewership in Millions.
4. What is the definition of "viewership" in your viewership estimates?
Our viewership number for any show/film is an estimate of the number of unique people in India who watched the show (at least one full episode) or film (at least 30 mins.). They do not represent the number of accounts used for watching the show/film, e.g., three members of a family watching on the same account are considered as three unique audience. Overseas viewership is not included in our estimates. While weekly viewership, which is reported on Film Companion every Monday, represents the number of such people who watched the show/film in that week, lifetime viewership of a show/film is the number of unduplicated audience, i.e., even if an audience member watches the content spread over multiple weeks, they are counted only once. To put it a simply, if a series has a viewership estimate of 20 Million, it means that 20 Million Indians watched at least one episode of the series.
5. Why do your viewership numbers not match platform estimates?
This is simply a case of different definitions. A platform may look at watch time, or trials (e.g., watched for one minute), or cumulative views, or session views. Different platforms may use different metrics, depending on their context. As mentioned in #4 above, overseas viewership is not captured in our estimates. But one of the most significant reason why our estimates are different from platforms' is: accounts vs. viewers. As explained in #4 above, we estimate viewership at an individual level, and each 'co-viewer' is counted individually. Similarly, our estimates are 'platform-agnostic'. A viewer may have watched the show/film on an aggregator app, on a friend's account, or even via a pirated method (e.g., the Telegram app). Our estimates report all such Indian audiences. It is, hence, entirely possible that a popular show has more viewership than the subscriber base of the platform itself.
6. My show is available in multiple languages. Does your viewership estimate of the show account for all these languages?
Currently, we cover national launches, with Hindi being the primary language of screening. So, if a Hindi content viewer watches a Hindi show in another language (say Tamil), it will be counted as a view. However, our track does not cover non-Hindi audiences, and hence, an audience watching only Tamil content won't be considered as a view. As we add more languages (see #2 above), we will be able to cover language audiences watching national shows too.
7. My show was launched across two parts, separated by a few weeks. Does its viewership estimates account for both parts?
Yes, but at an unduplicated level. For example, if Part 1 had a viewership of 16 Million and Part 2 had a viewership of 18 Million, our number would be at least 18 Million, and is likely in the 20-21 Million range, based on how many unique audiences watched either or both part. However, we treat different seasons of a show as different shows, even if they are launched within weeks of each other.
8. How do you report viewership of shows that have daily or weekly episode drops?
Again, the principle remains the same: Weekly viewership will be the unique number of viewers in that week, while lifetime viewership will be the unduplicated (unique) viewers who watched any one episode of the show in any of the weeks.
9. How 'accurate' are these estimates?
Our endeavor is to minimise relative error of estimation, by improving both the quality and quantity of our sample over time. However, given that actual viewership is not available in the public domain (unlike box office and TV ratings), it becomes difficult to quantify the accuracy of these estimates. However, we are constantly engaged with OTT platforms to get qualitative, if not quantitative, feedback from them, especially on the rank order of their properties in our lists, to fine-tune our estimation model accordingly. Any support of this nature is highly appreciated, as it helps us create a stronger culture of building industry data that's unbiased and transparent.
10. As a producer or a platform, what can I do to get my shows/films to feature on these lists? Do I need to subscribe to any services?
No. Which shows/films we track, and their estimated viewership, is not linked to any platform or producer's business relationship (or the absence of it) with Ormax Media.
11. How can I access Ormax's OTT viewership data of the past?
We publish a weekly Top 5 list via Film Companion, and a mid-year and annual report. Apart from this, we are currently not making this data available publicly. However, some of the strategy, content and brand consulting projects we undertake for OTT platforms and producers use this data as one of the several inputs.
12. I have a question regarding the viewership of a show/film I am associated with. How can I get an answer?
If you are in a working relationship with Ormax Media, you can get in touch with the client servicing executive handling your account. Alternatively, you can email us at [email protected], and we will get back to you within 2-3 business days.
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