OTT: The year 2020 in flashback is still a vivid memory, as not long ago, we were locked into our houses, breaking away from the daily humdrum and spending quality time with family. It has taken humans one virus outbreak to realize the importance of fellow humans in their lives. This phase is far from over, yet we are gathering ourselves, bit by bit with an improved vision. To break the monotony further during the lockdown, what we relied the most on were Over-The-Top (OTT) media services. They turned out to be a blessing in disguise not just for viewers but content creators as well. Online streaming services like Disney+Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime, SonyLIV, proved to be producers’ knight in shining armour when they saw nothing playing out to their advantage. To match the changing dynamics and compensate for the economic loss, big banner movies like Gunjan Saxena, Dil Bechara, Chhalaang, released digitally.
The Indian film industry saw a massive slump in business due to the pandemic which prompted a shutdown of movie theatres for close to seven months. But somebody’s loss is certainly another’s gain as it turned out in the case of OTT platforms that successfully overshadowed the movie-hall void. From being web-series-centric mediums to a movie release channel, the OTT platforms have come a long way.
Let’s break down the growth story of OTT platforms in 2020:
Change in consumer behaviour: The pandemic has changed the way audience perceives the entertainment experience. Content consumption is no longer a cinema-driven fantasy as viewers are seemingly comfortable in stay-at-home OTT services. With the emergence of quality service via diverse content and reasonable charges, the subscription percentage of digital services has also shown a steep rise.
Closure of movie theatres: The shutdown of cinema halls has also played out in OTT’s favour. With conventional mediums like movie theatres, live events, concerts inoperable during lockdown, the growth of Media and Entertainment industry was paralyzed and it was the online services that compensated for the economic damage.
A report by Media and Entertainment Outlook 2020 stated that OTT revenue will increase at a CAGR of 30.7% between 2019-2024 i.e., from $708 million in 2019 to $2.7 billion.
OTT revenue overtakes theatrical earnings: The increasing subscription numbers and investments by OTT services have massively contributed to the revenue garnered by digital platforms. The M&E report predicted SVoD (Subscription Video on Demand) to grow by 30.7% in the next four years, therefore overtaking box office revenue by at least 2.6% in the coming years.
Budget-friendly subscription rates make OTT the audience choice: Another factor that has contributed to the growth of online streaming services is the subscription rate. People now find it viable to pay Rs. 200 for a monthly Netflix subscription or Rs 129 for Amazon Prime over a one-time cinema experience that costs them a minimum of Rs 300 per movie. Not only do the viewers get to watch particular content again on OTT platforms, but also a wide array of options.
Evolution of OTT from web series to online promotions: Not just movie releases, but the word “movie promotions” has also caught digital attention. For example, ‘Ludo’ star cast’s interview with Rajeev Masand featured on Netflix followed by the film’s release. ‘Mismatched’ bloopers on Netflix right before the release was a good move to keep the audience glued to Dimple and Rishi’s chemistry. In fact, every movie or show release saw an online promotion in the form of interviews, bloopers, social media banter, etc. The upcoming Netflix release ‘AK vs AK’was spearheaded by a war of words between Anurag Kashyap and Anil Kapoor on Twitter. Disney+Hotstar’s “First Day First Show Poster” of Sadak 2 was widely circulated on Instagram.
All in all, this has been an OTT year, a breakthrough passage when people experienced a digital release of movies in the comfort of their blankets. The year 2020 also broke the Bollywood jinx of how an actor should look like. The audience got to see a talented pool of not-so-mainstream actors making an impact with their stellar performances in shows like Paatal Lok, Delhi Crime, Mirzapur, Taj Mahal, She, etc. Despite challenges, the OTT platforms thrived on the opportunity commendably.