By Sugandha Rawal
New Delhi, Oct 20 (IANS) Its the era of binge watching and much more — all thanks to the small screen wonders of the big world of OTT platforms.
Whether you are in metro, waiting for someone, travelling to work or in a flight, chances are high that you will be hooked to your phone’s screen catching a new episode of a series, a movie or watching your favourite show once again. That’s how OTTs have crawled into our lives, bringing diverse catalogue of content just a click away.
Be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Voot or Hotstar, OTT platforms have made video content consumption an anywhere, everywhere and anytime multi-screen and multi-device experience. Now, they are trying to break away from ‘binge’ way of consuming entertainment, and create a new ‘digital’ route to the future.
According to Germany-based data research firm Statista, streaming video-on-demand services have beaten TV in customer satisfaction in India, with the country securing third spot (52 per cent) when it comes to pay for content, after China and Brazil.
This is proved by the growing market for platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, MX Player, Voot, Zee5, ALTBalaji or Sony Liv in India. According to a report, the Indian OTT market will reach the $5 billion-mark in size by 2023. Another states that 75 per cent of content will be consumed on OTT platforms in 2021.
The growing demand and popularity of OTTs is having a ripple effect on the quality of the content library.
They are adding star power by roping in veteran A-list stars, hosting digital concerts with big names attached, bringing movies onto the streaming services within a few months of theatrical release and reviving cancelled shows on fan demand — setting up an all-encompassing entertainment space of their own.
In fact, the viewing habits have changed with digital service providers keeping the flow of original content steady, putting the growth of cable TV with a set-top box in a vulnerable position.
“The scope and scale and ambition of television is beginning to rival that of feature film, which is an incredible win for consumers,” said Netflix Content chief Ted Sarandos during the recent earnings interview for the third quarter this year.
“Unlike the common thought that urbanites are watching more content online, 65 per cent video consumption is coming from the rural parts of India thanks to cheap data plans, especially from Reliance Jio, and affordable smartphones. Those who cannot afford to buy a smart, connected TV are now streaming OTT content on phones,” TV Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum (BIF) had told IANS.
The streaming platforms created an appetite for binge-watching all over the world, with people falling in love with shows such as “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, “The Crown”, “Sacred Games”, “Bard Of Blood”, “Mindhunter”, “Stranger Things”, “Fleabag”, “When They See Us”, “Good Omens”, “Made In Heaven”, “Sex Education”, “Queer Eye” and “Delhi Crime”.
Now, the streaming giants are trying to rewrite their own ways by leaning away from the binge factor.
For instance, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon’s “The Morning Show” and Jason Momoa’s sci-fi “See” will be rolled out slowly at Apple TV+. The consumers will have direct access to the first three episodes, and then the rest of the episodes will be released on a weekly basis.
Disney+, which is relying on nostalgia and popularity of its franchises to get people hooked, will be putting out one episode of “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” at the time of launch and then go for weekly episode plan.
Netflix has also ditched the binge model for some titles like “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” and David Letterman’s “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman”.
Big films with big names are adding another twist to the demand of the whole streaming game.
Hollywood biggies including, Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro have Netflix projects added to their resume. Oscar-winning “Roma”, big-budget commercial “Bright” and much-anticipated “The Irishman” are shinning examples.
It’s just a start, with Michael Bay’s “6 Underground”, featuring Ryan Reynolds, and Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” with Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver driving the story, in pipeline.
“These are big, theatrically ambitious-type films that you’ll be able to watch on Netflix, included in your subscription. It really is a fundamental change in the economics of how people enjoy films,” deadline.com quoted Sarandos as saying during the recent earnings interview for the third quarter this year.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t value franchises like “Stranger Things” and “Black Mirror”.
“But I think about it not as franchises are better than non-franchises. Great stories are what matter and the way that they reach consumers really makes a difference,” added Sarandos.
Amazon head Jennifer Salke pointed out another change in an interview to Elle.
“Years ago, people would say that you need a white male star, that women should be sexy,” she said, adding: “You had talented people pitching original ideas who weren’t successful because they didn’t check off all the boxes. Nobody wants to be bored by a mass volume of the same type of show. We turned off generations of viewers; it didn’t feel relevant to them. The opportunity for global storytelling — that’s where the wins are.”
OTT platforms will continue changing rules and creating new ways of entertainment. But the question is how are you changing with it?
(Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)