Why the series you liked didn't return for another season

Amazon Prime saw Panchayat and Mirzapur return for a third season this year.   (X)
Amazon Prime saw Panchayat and Mirzapur return for a third season this year. (X)

Summary

  • It is cheaper to make a new show, which is why India still lags behind western markets where it is common for shows to be brought back bigger and grander over several years, say experts

NEW DELHI : Despite the success of multiple seasons of web originals such as Panchayat, Mirzapur, Gullak and Aarya, streaming platforms remain picky when it comes to green-light new seasons in India.

According to executives and producers, not more than 10% of the overall slate across streaming platforms is green-lit for renewal.

Industry experts say the returning seasons are likely to be costlier and it is tough to convince makers to spend more, given low subscription and advertising numbers in the country. In fact, it is cheaper to make a new show, which is why India still lags behind Western markets, where it is common for shows to be brought back bigger and grander over several years.

Also Read: Ad-driven slates are a strong focus for OTT platforms as initial efforts pay off

Multiple factors

“The decision to renew a show depends on multiple factors. We closely evaluate audience engagement metrics, including viewership numbers and social-media interactions. Feedback from critics and our subscribers plays a significant role. Generally, a select number of shows that resonate deeply with our audience and generate substantial buzz are considered for subsequent seasons," said Manish Kalra, chief business officer of ZEE5 India.

In Western markets, the dynamics of content creation and consumption may vary. However, it is important for the markets to balance audience expectations and production viability, Kalra said, adding that ZEE5 has released sequels for shows such as Rangbaaz, The Broken News, Mithya, Sunflower and Silence.

A senior producer working on web originals said sequels that are approved are a combination of what has worked with audiences and what helps build perception for the platform. “SVoD (subscription video on demand) shows are anyway loss leaders for any platform but it is difficult to justify investment worth crores on the next season of a show that has not made any money in the first place," the producer said.

Also Read: OTT platforms ride on foreign markets for returns from big-budget titles

Karan Taurani, senior vice-president at Elara Capital Ltd, said out of every 10 shows, only five—one or two of which may have actually clicked with the audience—may be renewed by a platform. “In the West, things are different because the audience has leapfrogged by several years, and there are far more established franchises. In India, things are still in try-and-test mode."

Franchises are important 

However, platform heads are cognizant of the importance of creating franchises. Soumya Mukherjee, chief operating officer of Bengali streaming service Hoichoi, said the early days of streaming in India are over, and services must create characters that can stay with audiences for a long time. However, that isn’t really the case across the industry.

Also Read: Popular faces, TV franchises top OTT charts as platforms hook mass audiences

“Unless a content piece is critically disliked, a platform usually produces a second season because a lot is invested in marketing an original web series. Moreover, OTT (over-the-top) platforms have very diverse audiences, and a faction always likes a particular content piece. A second or a third season benefits from day one traction and marketing," said Ujjwal Mahajan, co-founder of Chaupal, a platform specializing in Punjabi, Haryanvi and Bhojpuri content.

“Third seasons are goldmines, and it is on the back of these blockbuster series that an OTT platform becomes a part of dinner-table conversations," Mahajan added.

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