The number of smartphone users in India is estimated to reach 299.24 million in the next few years. Bollywood producers and production houses have thus realised the potential of online platforms. After concentrating on YouTube and video-streaming sites, they are now focusing on Over-the-Top (OTT platforms).
Market leaders like Amazon Prime and Netflix are already doing wonders and some local players like AltBalaji, ErosNow, Chillx and others are slowly creating a niche for themselves too.
Following them, several players are entering the market hoping to cash in on the online platform. Filmmaker Vikram Bhatt, who is known for his work in films, television and the digital space, is all set to launch his own VB-Theatre on the web app. Dharma Production too is launching Dharma 2.0. And Disney will launch its OTT platform in 2019.
Vikram says, “I think that the cell phone has become the first screen of choice and has beaten the television. The crowd is on the phone these days and every entertainer wants to be with the crowd; that’s the nature of entertainment.”
The particular space is luring players as they get to explore innovative ideas, believes Taran Adarsh. “It’s an alternative platform where you can give content without any censorship. We are witnessing some newer stories and people are listening to these stories. It’s an old formula in the West but it’s catching up here,” says Taran.
Because the medium is still novel, companies are finding ways to get more subscriptions. Anil Ambani-led Reliance Entertainment’s pioneering OTT Platform Chillx recently announced its innovative content distribution partnership with Xender.
The multi-lingual app, besides serving content in language of choice, also enables the users to customise the user interface in a regional language of their choice. An all-in-one, entertainment app with multiple languages caters to the masses spread across Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities of India where vernacular language is the preferred option. Commenting on this, Vijay Singh, CEO, Funongo Media and Entertainment LLP, said, “During the trial run with Xender, we saw an average increase in watch time by almost 25 per cent. Chillx is excited to be a part of this distribution tie-up and bring great content with regional relevance to Xender’s subscribers in India.”
Eros International recently announced the launch of Eros Now Short Movies on Eros Now. The first film titled Toffee, is being produced by Ayushmann Khurrana, co-produced with casting director Mukesh Chhabra and directed by Tahira Kashyap. Commenting on the launch, Rishika Lulla Singh, CEO, Eros Digital, says, “Our aim is to constantly innovate and spot trends that stimulate the audience. We want to continue engaging our viewers with exciting content and formats and are very positive that our short movies will deliver. Eros Now is proud to kickstart the series with a film that will definitely connect with you and touch your heart.”
Targeting the young audience
With youngsters having no other platform to consume content as television is mostly ruled by women and films being a costly affair, they are mostly lured to this platform. With minimum costs, they get to watch a variety of originals and films. Taran says, “Obviously these players are targeting young India who is ready to experiment with content.”
What is an OTT platform?
OTT is an application or service that is able to provide a product over the internet. This method bypasses traditional methods of distribution. Over the top services are mostly related to media and communication and are lower in cost when compared to traditional delivery methods. Vikram, who will launch
Untouchables, directed by Krishna Bhatt (his daughter), followed by Twisted 2, says that OTT is still at a very early stage here. He believes that the only way one can survive on this platform is by making web originals. “Because one can’t afford acquisition of big films, one has to see how the originals pan out against each other. That is where I think content will win. Mine is not the usual subscription based app, it is more like theatre on the web. There is no subscription,” he says.