Older groups take to OTTs, wary of visiting cinemas

Trade experts said easy access to quality content on over-the-top streaming platforms has contributed a great deal in the migration of the older population to the web

Lata Jha
Updated29 Apr 2023
According to the estimates in the Ormax report, the 31-40 age group and the 41-plus age group shrunk by 31% and 39%, respectively, while it is 8% and 2% for the 22-30 and 15-21 age groups, respectively.
According to the estimates in the Ormax report, the 31-40 age group and the 41-plus age group shrunk by 31% and 39%, respectively, while it is 8% and 2% for the 22-30 and 15-21 age groups, respectively.

The median age for cinema-going audiences has declined from 27.5 pre-covid to 24.1, primarily led by a fall in the number of consumers in the 31-plus age group, according to a report by media consulting firm Ormax.

While one of the reasons is declining household incomes, trade experts said easy access to quality content on over-the-top streaming platforms has contributed a great deal in the migration of the older population to the web. Younger audiences are still adventurous but older viewers no longer see the theatrical space as an exciting alternative for quality content, including genres like drama, said an industry insider, seeking anonymity.

That apart, works of actors such as Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi and Ayushmann Khurrana, who appeal to this age group are widely available on OTTs, he added.

According to the estimates in the Ormax report, the 31-40 age group and the 41-plus age group shrunk by 31% and 39%, respectively, while it is 8% and 2% for the 22-30 and 15-21 age groups, respectively.

“At the industry level, some recent theatrical releases have witnessed an audience slightly skewed towards a younger population, but there are several variables and factors that impact the contribution of audiences to any film. The content itself plays a mammoth role. Additionally the genre of the film, category, storyline, cast and crew are key factors. The other important aspect which has been a core determinant in the consumption of movies is the pandemic. We saw younger consumers embrace out-of-home experiences faster than older (age-based) consumers, not just in the entertainment industry but for leisure non-essential activities as well,” Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer, cinemas, BookMyShow, said.

However, the time frame has been too short for it to be viewed as a deep-seated trend that would impact the industry across formats, he added.

In a recent interview, Ajay Bijli, managing director, PVR INOX Ltd had said for people aged over 35-40 years, the frequency (of going to theatres) has declined. “It’s just something that is very movie driven now. Perhaps 18-24 months is a long time for the cinemas to remain shut. There have been perception issues—they think a film will soon be available on OTT, but that has not been the case. We have to communicate that the window has returned to eight weeks from four in the covid period. These are temporary, and once the flow of movies starts, audiences will be back to theatres,” Bijli said.

In fact, Bijli said, for films like Drishyam 2, The Kashmir Files and Top Gun: Maverick, it was a more mature crowd.

The Ormax report said that for younger audiences, going to the movies with friends is a popular way to socialize and connect, which impacts their decision to visit theatres a lot lesser, despite them being more technology-friendly. “With lowering of family incomes and depletion of savings during the pandemic period, older members in a theatre-going family would be less willing, or even able to spend money on outdoor entertainment activities. For younger audiences, the social expression makes theatre-going a lot more intrinsic to their lives, not seen as a luxury alone,” the report said. It added that younger viewers, in particular, felt caged during pandemic and are not showing an over-compensatory reaction, also referred to as ‘revenge consumption.’

Older audiences have discovered the convenience of watching films at home and no longer see value in movie-going as an experience, said Bihar-based independent exhibitor Vishek Chauhan. “Every actor worth his salt is now doing web originals so that sense of mystique and exclusivity has been eroded. Younger audiences come for an adventure, they can help films get good openings. But the audience segment that helped good-quality, mid-budget cinema power through has gone away,” Chauhan said.

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