For content studios, there’s no such thing as over-the-top loyalty

While the Hindi version of Gadar 2, starring Sunny Deol, can be watched on Zee5, the Telugu and Tamil versions are available on rent on Amazon Prime Video.
While the Hindi version of Gadar 2, starring Sunny Deol, can be watched on Zee5, the Telugu and Tamil versions are available on rent on Amazon Prime Video.

Summary

Media and entertainment studios are happy to license their films and shows to rival video-streaming, or over-the-top, platforms to maximise value

NEW DELHI : Gadar 2, the Sunny Deol-starring action movie that released in theatres in August, went on to become the eighth highest-grossing Hindi film of all time, fetching its producer and distributor Zee Studios a neat pocket. If you want to watch the movie now, it’s available on Zee5, Zee Entertainment Enterprises’ video-streaming, or over-the-top, platform. But only the original Hindi version. For the Telugu and Tamil versions, you would have to rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

It’s a trend that’s catching on in India. 

Media and entertainment companies such as Zee Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Warner Bros Discovery, all of which have streaming platforms in India, are licensing their movies and shows to external OTT platforms to unlock greater value.

While several of Zee Studios’ movies are available across Netflix and Prime Video, Sony recently signed a deal for its international titles to stream on Prime Video via an add-on subscription. Warner has a deal with JioCinema for HBO content.

Industry experts say entertainment companies are seeking to maximise revenue for their productions as their streaming platforms may not be able to adequately tap the potential of all their films and shows made in a particular period.

“Despite owning their own OTT platforms, companies capitalise on other platforms’ extensive user base and bring differentiated content to the consumer," said Arjun Nohwar, general manager, South Asia, Warner Bros. Discovery. “This symbiotic relationship enhances OTT platforms’ content libraries, attracting a larger subscriber base, while parent companies generate additional revenue sans the costs and risks of independent platform operation in India’s competitive landscape."

It is important for content studios to be aware of all potential sales and revenue possibilities, said Shariq Patel, chief business officer, Zee Studios.

“We try and make sure there are different opportunities to monetise different products. Plus, one streaming platform cannot host too many titles in a particular quarter," Patel said. 

Often, co-producers on a film may have agreements with different streaming platforms, he added. 

Further, Zee is also exploring the pay-per-view, or transaction video-on-demand, model for some titles on services such as BookMyShow Stream and Prime Video Rentals, with micro-payments gaining traction.

Last month, Amazon Prime Video entered a distribution agreement with Sony Pictures Television, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, to launch Sony Pictures–Stream on Prime Video Channels, a content aggregation service that makes other subscription video-on-demand platforms available on its app and website. 

Sony Pictures–Stream offers a selection of international movies and TV shows on Prime Video Channels with an annual add-on subscription of 399 per year. 

In a statement, Vivek Srivastava, head-Prime Video Channels, India, had referred to the service as a launchpad for several international streaming services and studios, helping them reach a wider audience across India.

Many of these deals are non-exclusive, according to industry experts.

Details of licensing deals fluctuate depending on agreements between content owners and OTT platforms, typically spanning from several months to years, influenced by factors such as content popularity and negotiation leverage.

“Especially with movies where there are always risks associated with theatrical (releases), every studio will want to strike the best deal to ensure maximum recovery," said a media analyst declining to be named.

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