Russian OTT players in the CIS markets have experienced an unprecendented viewing explosion during last spring’s lockdown, enabling them to significantly grow their paying subscriber base. During this period, all major streaming services enabled new users to temporarily access content for much lower fees, or even for free. This enabled them to reach much larger audiences after what the main challenge has been to fidelize viewers.
Ivi, the most popular streaming service in Russian speaking markets, claimed more than three million paying subscribers at Q2 2020, which represents a progression of 35% compared to the end of 2019.The service now holds an estimated 40% of the SVOD industry market share in CIS countries.
Okko, the second biggest competitor on the market, has been very active this year by launching several new projects. With SberDevices, a subsidiary of Russian Sberbank, Okko launched an advanced set-top-box which serves as an alternative to connected TV and enables its users to watch other apps and TV channels. Meanwhile, the OTT player also started investing in original content through a co-production with Russian broadcaster STS.
The streaming market is moving fast in the area, and not only in Russia. Russian OTT players are also capitalizing on audiences outside of the Russian Federation. NTV Plus expanded its OTT services to all CIS markets at Q2 2020.
While Netflix has not been a significant competitor in Russian speaking markets until now, it is now focusing on this area. The global SVOD market leader launched a Russian version of its service with dubbed titles on October 15th through a partnership with National Media Group. Netflix is also working on an Ukrainian version of its platform.
The Russian streaming video industry has a significant growth potential but the multiplication of players on the market and the maintenance of very low ARPUs might push OTT services towards consolidation to survive on a highly competitive environment. In September, telco operator VEON which operates the Beeline brand has shown interest in acquiring Megogo, one of the leading player on the market which gathers 58 million users per month across the region.