Bollywood, Beyond the Box Office
Bollywood, Beyond the Box Office
 26 December 2017

Having a problem releasing your controversial movie in cinema halls/TV? OTT might just be your solution. What’s more, the limitation on the number of screens in the domestic market has filmmakers resorting to the online medium to aim for a wider release.

Content creators and consumers would have noticed the paradigm shift that has taken place in the entertainment industry. The emergence of new platforms, greater bandwidth, exposure to world-class content and the willingness of consumers to pay for service as well as convenience have paved the way for a digital revolution in the M&E sector. The change, though not yet transformational, is something that will gradually change the way content is being created and consumed in the future. Here are some of the key elements that have triggered this change, specifically in the Indian film industry or Indian cinema:

Profitability: Currently, it is a conscious decision by the Indian film industry to cater to digital audiences by streaming films online post their theatrical release, which has resulted in shortened windows for satellite TV premieres. This works particularly well for content that is niche or censorship sensitive. All of these are proving to be profitable avenues for studios and production houses, thereby empowering funding bodies to invest in a mix of content and commercially entertaining ventures. The streaming and satellite rights being almost at par is a reflection of choices that consumers are making, which in turn has made online content streaming a viable option for filmmakers with the added benefit of curbing the dreaded issue of piracy.

Distribution of content: Effective distribution of content is essential for its success. And in the digital space, there is a wider geographical reach as territorial boundaries are eliminated. Exposure to global content and the option to consume cross-cultural content further adds impetus to the online platforms. In addition to the macro benefits, the platforms also serve as a boon to regional content. It is encouraging for producers that are keen to venture into regional content considering the limited investment and availability of the target audience base.

Customisation for audiences: Most of the OTT platforms today are based on intelligent algorithms that analyse consumer behaviour and push content accordingly. This makes for a superior viewing experience and is hyper catered to one’s tastes. Furthermore, the convenience, fluidity and rapidity of content on digital have got people hooked on, and the idea of getting to watch the best content anytime and anywhere is liberating. This also marks a shift in the behaviour of audiences, who are moving from appointment viewing to binge viewing at their convenience.

Theatrical release: As for multilingual magnum opus content, theatres still prove to be the platform of display. The visual and audio experience provided by cinema halls continues to be apt for showcasing content which is larger than life and has a multidimensional appeal. However, the limitation on the number of screens in the domestic market has filmmakers resorting to the online medium to aim for a wider release. While many are hopping onto the OTT bandwagon, many consumers still look forward to the theatre going experience, which is very much a group or a family activity for Indians as opposed to the individualistic experience that OTT platforms provide. As content creators, it is essential for an individual or an entity to be in sync with these changes and produce content according to the consumer’s demands and preferences. Observing and adapting content is essential to bifurcate means of entertainment be it films, web series or short films.

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