Home / Industry / Media /  Yash Raj Films contemplates OTT launch in India’s cluttered market
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New Delhi: Bollywood movie production and distribution house Yash Raj Films (YRF), which is rumoured to be launching its OTT (over-the-top) streaming platform, will capitalise on its well-established strength to create large-scale content with familiar faces, according to trade experts.

The company may also work around a way to bring its tent-pole theatrical titles soon to its streaming service, much like the way Netflix does with a limited release in cinemas for its originals abroad. 

However, challenges will remain in terms of offering differentiated content in a cluttered market like India and coming up with the right product and technology to create a smooth user experience.

The news was first reported by international entertainment magazine Variety earlier this month. YRF did not respond to Mint’s queries on its plans for a streaming service but media industry experts say the studio that is contemplating bringing out a platform in the coming months, hasn’t finalized the same yet.

“A big advantage of a studio launching its own streaming platform is that it would help them to continue monetizing their content themselves. The challenges of doing so will be to compete with other global platforms in terms of quantity of content on offer for subscribers. Global platforms, backed with huge investments and presence across countries are offering diverse content to their subscribers. Other platforms have the advantage of sports or linear television shows in their library which adds to the subscription proposition," Gautam Jain, partner at media consulting firm Ormax said adding that it will be interesting to see how YRF establishes a differentiation compared to existing platforms.

Film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said the service would have a strong chance at least in the Indian market given that YRF has an existing library of popular blockbusters, though many of these are currently available on other streaming platforms. The hybrid release of Salman Khan’s Radhe this May by Zee Studios across select theatres and on its OTT platform ZEE5 has also thrown up new possibilities for film producers, Johar said. “Netflix too is seeking a limited theatrical release for some of its originals abroad before premiering them on the service," Johar pointed out.

As the largest Indian film production house that operates on the same lines as global studios like Walt Disney and Warner Bros, though not on the same scale, YRF has a general understanding of the market especially given its overseas film distribution offices, said Karan Taurani, senior vice-president at Elara Capital Ltd. “The challenge, however, arises because building scale for an OTT platform, including licensing titles from other companies involves tremendous cash burn," Taurani said. YRF would have to figure out a strategy and price plan completely different from other platforms and yet viable, Taurani added, because the market is already fragmented with multiple players competing for eyeballs and remaining niche doesn’t quite pay off.

“The success of any OTT platform is not just a factor of content but also technological muscle and backend. You need a certain amount of data to be able to segment your audiences and gain relevance for them with customized offerings," said Balkrishna Hari Singh, founder and CEO, Frenzi - a single window search and recommendation app for streaming content adding that it took a platform like Netflix many years to reach a point where the customer feels it is speaking exclusively to them and their tastes.

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