Television’s biggest rivals, the OTT platforms, are now pipping the idiot box when it comes to movie releases. As Indian subscribers are increasingly watching content on-the-go, movies are skipping the satellite route to go straight onto mobiles through OTT apps, which aim to hook global audience through digital premières.
While Manmarziyaan and Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi had a digital premiere on Eros Now ahead of TV, Amazon Prime featured Tumbbad within weeks of its theatrical release. ZEE5 too has been following this strategy for some months now.
“There is change in the consumption habits of customers, where they want to watch movies at their own convenience rather than worrying about a day and time when a blockbuster will première on satellite,” Ali Hussein, COO at Eros Digital, told BusinessLine.
Manish Aggarwal, Business Head, ZEE5 India, said producers would like their content to reach a large audience. “Along with television, producers also want to digitally to penetrate their audience. One more benefit OTT players have is the longer shelf life (of content),” he said.
ZEE5 has digitally premiered titles across languages including Padman, Veere Di Wedding, Mulk, Parmanu, Batti Gul Meter Chalu in Hindi.
D Girish, Content Head at Spuul, said the gap between the valuation for movie rights for OTT platforms and satellite broadcasters is decreasing as there is a scramble for digital subscriber acquisition.
“So many movies are coming first on OTT. Also, some broadcasters, apart from being open to licensing, have their own OTT apps, which helps them to control the windowing between the two mediums,” he added.
Hussein said that while blockbusters will continue to remain mega events on television, some interesting content driven films with strong performances tend to work better on OTT. “They don’t become satellite events and it is something that people like to watch in an OTT environment,” he said.
Aggarwal agreed that on OTT platform, it is just the content, the craft and story-telling that brings in audience. “Also, the digital audience is quite different from that of a television or theatre. They like to experiment. Batti Gul Meter Chalu is doing great numbers for us and people who missed watching it in theatres are coming to the platform to consume it,” he added.
According to a recent BCG survey, Bollywood content is the most preferred genre of Indian content watched in international markets. “In most markets, watching Indian content on OTT apps is cheaper than watching on TV. The ability to watch on-the-go and to access latest content on-demand also drives the demand,” said the report.
Aggarwal said ZEE5’s availability in over 190 countries, gives its content a global reach. “South Asians as a primary audience appreciate good content. There is a large language (Indian) audience across the world too to whom our movie lineup will appeal to a great extent,” he added.