- The prevalence of OTT platforms is the highest among the younger generation
- Currently, there are 350 million users, but it is projected to reach up to 500 million users
- The filmmakers were forced to have the OTT as their chosen medium of releases due to Covid lockdown
Are people adopting the new normal or have they adopted it already? The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted life and we have been making many adjustments. While everyone is trying to adapt to the new lifestyle, there are changes which are long-lasting. One of the major shifts that everyone has witnessed is from theaters to the OTT. The cinema business experience a major drop as theaters were shut due to the covid lockdown. It is now in the recovery phase. It was during the first COVID lockdown that people turned to TV and mobile screens for entertainment. While it wasn't the TV that attracted regular audience but the online platforms. Several OTT platforms including Disney + Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Alt Balaji, ZEE 5 among others entered the competition and gained popularity, making it an economical source of entertainment. These platforms undoubtedly challenged the supremacy of traditional television and big screens and continue to do so.
How the face of OTT is changing?
The prevalence of OTT platforms is the highest among the younger generation. Particularly, men in the age group 15-30 consume the most OTT content. While, for women, the consumption of OTT content is highest in the 25-35 age group, and that number has increased during the pandemic.
According to Betway's Digital survey, India will experience a tremendous increase in OTT consumers by 2023. Currently, there are 350 million users, but it is projected to reach up to 500 million users. The accessibility to smartphones in the rural areas of India has significantly contributed to the use of OTT platforms - around 65 per cent of OTT content consumption in India comes from the rural parts with only 40 per cent internet connection.
Is it the End of the Cinema?
Many blockbuster Bollywood films couldn't see the light of the day and made a shift to the OTT release including Laxmii, Shershaah, Radhe, Bhuj and others. After getting postponed multiple times due to the covid induced lockdown, the filmmakers were forced to have the OTT as their chosen medium of releases.
While many films made their way to the cinema after the theaters reopened, the filmmakers are also opting for an OTT release after 90-days of its theater run. Also, the films that have been released in theaters are struggling to keep up the business like the pre-Covid era. Akshay Kumar starrer Bell Bottom was the first big-budget film to hit the big screens post-pandemic but failed to draw box office numbers. At that time, the theaters occupancy was 50 per cent. With full occupancy now, the films are managing to do good business. Another mega release, Sooryavanshi hit the theaters during the Diwali weekend and saw an overwhelming response at the domestic box office, minting Rs 230.14 crores till now. With Sooryavanshi's release, people were encouraged to step out and experience the cinema on the big screens. Since the response wasn't what it should have been in the pre-covid era, the filmmakers dropped the Akshay Kumar-Katrina Kaif starrer on Netflix soon after.
Movies such as Salman Khan-Aayush Sharma's Antim: The Final Truth and John Abraham's Satyameva Jayate 2 too made it to the big screens but couldn't rock the box office. Biding goodbye to 2021, expectations from the much-anticipated films like Gangubai Kathiawadi, Prithviraj, Radhe Shyam among others, which are slated to release in January 2022, are high. With the release of these films, the entertainment business is expected to grow. However, it won't be wrong to say that the growing popularity of OTT will be hard to miss.
Not just films and web series, many TV serials and reality shows opted the OTT way. This year, the controversial reality show Bigg Boss, had an OTT debut on Voot, giving its viewers 24-hour access to their live footage. Interestingly, it was also reported that an online platform approached Bollywood actors Vicky Kaushal and Katrina Kaif for an exclusive access to their wedding footage. While it is a common trend in the west to sell off wedding footage and images to magazines and TV channels, the streaming giant is planning to bring in the same trend in India too and to kick off their wedding franchise.