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NEW DELHI : Even as streaming content penetrates deep into the country, over-the-top video services are grappling with high volume and low audience approval ratings for Hindi content.

Media consulting firm Ormax estimates suggest that across major streaming platforms in India, 233 original shows and 117 original films were launched in the Hindi language in 2020 and 2021, out of which only 26 shows and 13 films managed to cross respectable audience ratings as per its internal surveys.

Ormax estimates audience approval via Ormax Power Rating (OPR), a score on a scale of 0-100 that represents how much a show or a film is liked by its viewers. OPR data is collected for all major original shows and films for four weeks after their launch, with viewers asked to score it on the scale. The sample size of Ormax studies is 5,000 plus across all states and union territories except Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, varying through weeks. Properties with 60 plus OPR tend to sustain well, while those with 70 plus have long runs. Properties below an OPR of 50 tend to struggle, while those below 40 can die within days of launch, the media firm said.

According to the report, only 26 shows and 13 films managed to cross the respectable threshold of 60. These numbers are barely 11% each of the total shows and films launched. Almost 46% of the films scored in the middling 50s. Original shows’ performance was worse: Only 32% scored in the 50s, and a larger set (55%) faced rejection at a score in the 40s or even lower.

Disney+ Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video dominate the list of 26 shows with 60+ OPR, with nine entries each. The Family Man season two, Mirzapur season two and Paatal Lok are the top three on the Amazon Prime Video list, while Special Ops, Special Ops 1.5 and Criminal Justice season two take the top three positions on the Disney+ Hotstar list.

SonyLIV comes in next with three shows -- Scam 1992, Avrodh and Gullak season two -- doing well.

Netflix (Kota Factory 2), ZEE5 (Abhay 2) and Voot (Asur) have a show each in this list, while the remaining two are from YouTube-based platforms (Dhindora by BB Ki Vines and Aspirants by TVF).

With five films on the list, Amazon Prime Video leads the pack of 13 films with 60 plus OPR including Shershaah, Sardar Udham, Chhalaang, Shakuntala Devi and Sherni. Netflix and ZEE5 do better on films than shows, with three 60 plus OPR films each over the two years with Mimi, Ludo and Serious Men for Netflix, and Kaagaz, State Of Siege:Temple Attack and Silence for ZEE5. Disney+ Hotstar takes the remaining two positions, with Dil Bechara and Khuda Haafiz.

“There has been an exponential jump in the consumption of OTT content and access (to it). This has been led by increasing smartphone penetration and access to affordable data. It is also getting fuelled by investment in differentiated and local content that is being produced," said Navin Khemka, CEO South Asia at media agency MediaCom. Everybody is in a rush to acquire content at any cost which is not sustainable. “We need to understand that audience appetite is limited, and it is critical to have a calendar that is sustainable. Discoverability of content is more critical than quantity of content which is not watched," Khemka added.

Streaming services believe in the idea of appealing to all audience segments as they have seen their user base increase in the past two years. They felt their content libraries were not doing justice to them, said Mehul Gupta, co-founder and CEO of digital agency SoCheers. “It is part of the journey to understand the likes and dislikes of their audiences and streamline offerings. These platforms don’t have the liberty to take time since this is a race," Gupta pointed out.

The volume of content being released across OTT platforms is high as consumers’ appetite for fresh content is also at an all-time high, said Nimisha Pandey, chief content officer, Hindi originals, ZEE5. "As platforms strive to capture a significant portion of the consumer’s mind-space and wallet share, it is imperative to have a compelling value proposition that centres around engaging, new original content. For OTT platforms, wooing the consumer is as important as retaining them, for which you need to have a diverse bouquet of content offerings," Pandey said adding that the biggest learning for platforms has been the various taste clusters and consumer cohorts which have been instrumental in garnering a deeper understanding of the consumer’s content preferences. "It certainly helps us understand what content attracts users and what retains them on the platform. Sure, there are certain pieces which would have worked only for a smaller consumer segment but that does not diminish its importance in engaging with that segment. Going forward, it will all come down to striking the right balance between quantity and quality," Pandey said.

A Netflix spokesperson said Indians love variety and quality in entertainment in response to Mint’s queries on volume of content. “In any given week, our members might choose to watch Money Heist or Minnal Murali, Aranyak or The Adam Project, Squid Game or The Fame Game. One look at the Top 10 on Netflix and you can see the astonishing variety of what’s popular in the country. Last year alone, in India we launched 28 original series and films in 11 genres across 7 languages. Since the global top list launched last year, every Netflix film from India has made the global Top 10 non-English films list," the person added.

Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video and SonyLIV did not respond to Mint’s queries.

Marathi film producer Akshay Bardapurkar who is the founder of OTT platform Planet Marathi said most big services look to spend on big, popular names. “A lot of them want to acquire content before producers start asking for higher rates if they receive more offers. At the end of the day, they need IPs they can boast of and there isn’t truly a way to know if something has worked or not," Bardapurkar said.

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