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Business News/ Industry / Media/  OTT platforms wary of locking big-budget Hindi, Telugu film deals

OTT platforms wary of locking big-budget Hindi, Telugu film deals

Over the past few months, mega theatrical releases such as Salaar and Kalki 2898 AD found it tough to lock OTT deals, with big-budget Hindi and Telugu films not delivering for platforms the way they used to.

Overall, rates for such big-budget movies have reduced by 20-30% with platforms no longer keen to buy titles for perpetuity either. (Screengrab from YouTube/Netflix India)Premium
Overall, rates for such big-budget movies have reduced by 20-30% with platforms no longer keen to buy titles for perpetuity either. (Screengrab from YouTube/Netflix India)

New Delhi: Video streaming platforms' enthusiasm for big-star films has cooled, after many of them failed to attract subscribers despite the huge sums paid to acquire them. Large theatrical releases such as Salaar and Kalki 2898 AD have found it tough to find buyers in the OTT industry, which had splurged on acquiring such movies post theatrical release.

Streaming services want the acquisition prices of films featuring top stars to be linked to their box office performance, trade experts said, just as in the case of smaller movies. Overall, OTT rates for big-budget movies have plunged 20-30%, and platforms are no longer keen to buy titles for perpetuity either, trade experts said.

“Creating a film or show requires a considerable amount of time. The planning process takes place within a specific environment, and financial and marketing strategies are carefully structured accordingly. However, if the environment undergoes sudden shifts, the process of readjustment should be given its due course of time," Amita Madhvani, co-partner and producer, Ram Madhvani Films said.

While some bets on acquiring big-scale films post-theatrical release have paid off for OTT platforms, driving subscriber growth and differentiation, success isn't always guaranteed due to varying audience reception and competitive factors, Madhvani added.

Film trade experts say all streaming platforms are accountable to global parents and have to demonstrate judgment in acquiring content at steep rates.

“There are targets to meet and if bets misfire, somebody will be answerable. Even if leeway is granted for six months, questions will be asked at the end of the year. Especially when big star films fail at the box office, there is no reason to justify such high pricing for OTT," Yusuf Shaikh, business head, feature films, distribution, acquisition and IPR management, Percept Picture Co. said.

In the past, big films found easy buyers in streaming platforms even before theatrical release. However, several star vehicles have not done well at the box office recently, and OTTs, where paid subscriptions have plateaued, have taken note.

After Covid, big-budget titles like Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone-starrer Fighter, Tiger Shroff’s Ganapath, Prabhas’ Adipurush and Radhe Shyam, Ranveer Singh’s Cirkus and Akshay Kumar’s Selfiee, Ram Setu and Samrat Prithviraj, have underperformed at the box office.

“There has definitely been a dip in sentiment around big films. Platforms have realized they are neither generating revenue nor adding customers in a significant way based on data available to them," said a senior executive at an OTT platform, who declined to be named.

He said there is a huge difference between what the producer demands and what the service is willing to pay. Some sort of an agreement is reached to offer a base price and link the rest to the movie’s box office performance. Moreover, there isn’t much value attached to older libraries, which is why services are no longer buying rights for more than two years at a time, he said.

India's OTT market, it seems, is gradually embracing profitability, shunning the growth trajectory it was pursuing so far, experts said. 

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Lata Jha
Lata writes about the media and entertainment industry for Mint, focusing on everything from traditional film and TV to newer areas like video and audio streaming, including the business and regulatory aspects of both. She loves movies and spends a lot of her free time in theatres, which makes her job both fun and a bit of a challenge given that entertainment news often just talks about the glamorous side of things. Lata, on the other hand, tries to find and report on themes and trends in the entertainment world that most people don't notice, even though a lot of people in her country are really into movies. She’s a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.
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Published: 02 Apr 2024, 04:24 PM IST
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