Theatrical releases score over web originals on OTT | Mint
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Business News/ Special Report / Theatrical releases score over web originals on OTT

Theatrical releases score over web originals on OTT

Jawan, Gadar 2 and OMG 2 released over the past few months have garnered higher buzz upon their OTT launch than most web originals

Jawan Box Office collection Day 17: Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in Jawan (Screengrab from YouTube/T-Series) (Screengrab from YouTube/T-Series)Premium
Jawan Box Office collection Day 17: Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in Jawan (Screengrab from YouTube/T-Series) (Screengrab from YouTube/T-Series)

Web originals may be central for streaming apps, but it is the big-screen blockbusters that still generate bigger ‘buzz’ for them. Hit movies such as Jawan, Gadar 2 and OMG 2 starring A-list stars have done better on these platforms compared to web originals, an analysis by media consulting firm Ormax showed.

Buzz is a measure of the proportion of the audience that could recall a film or show without being prompted, when asked to recall recently-launched OTT titles.

Both Gadar 2 and OMG 2 garnered a buzz above 20%, according to the Ormax report. Between April and November, only 11 web originals managed a buzz above 20%. In contrast, as many as 23 theatrical films achieved this level of recall.

According to media experts, Indian viewers are still developing an appetite for subscription video on demand (SVoD). Meanwhile, big movie releases in theatres are accompanied by high-decibel marketing blitz, and this helps such movies when they hit streaming apps as well, they said. Besides, nearly three out of four SVoD viewers are regular theatre-goers, according to Ormax, meaning they evaluate streaming content based on their movie hall tastes established over time.

“Films have always been the most premium content asset in this country regardless of which platform they are on. It’s evident from the scale of campaigns that are carried out for theatrical releases, or how they’ve helped drive the penetration of cable and satellite television. Everyone leverages the power of films, and it isn’t surprising that they’re driving viewership on OTT too," Ajit Andhare, chief operating officer, Viacom18 Studios, said.

“Prime Video was already big on acquiring big tentpole film, and Netflix has caught on. Budget allocation to big Hindi and southern movie titles will only increase," Andhare predicted.

According to the Ormax report, Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Jawan, which hit Netflix in November, recorded a launch-week buzz of 53%, the highest any property has managed on OTT, since the second season of The Family Man in June 2021.

“Despite streaming being an established category in India now, the Indian OTT viewer continues to be in awe of the stardom that big-ticket theatrical content offers. Many SvoD viewers are cinema viewers, even fans, who have added OTT content to their viewing mix in the last few years," the report said.

The production value, star appeal, and promotion budgets associated with theatrical films, besides their exclusivity and reach among the masses, create greater hype and anticipation compared to any other formats, Chandrashekhar Mantha, partner, risk advisory practice, and media and entertainment sector leader, Deloitte India, said.

“Theatre is also driven by an experiential and social quotient that distinguishes itself from other modes of entertainment. Post-covid, there has been a phenomenal recovery in this sector as audiences returned to theatres. Largely, the audience driver has been good content with big film stars," Mantha said.

The excitement around theatrical films persists, undiminished by the surge in web originals and direct-to-OTT films, Kavitha Jaubin, vice-president, content and strategy at Telugu and Tamil OTT platform aha Video, said.

However, given the escalating costs, it may not be feasible to rely solely on securing rights for major films. “Instead, it is essential for OTT platforms to take on the responsibility of priming theatre-goers to sample and embrace web content. This entails introducing them to compelling narratives, unique formats, and the convenience of on-demand viewing. To engage the theatre-going crowd and navigate the competitive landscape, innovative approaches can be explored. This may include creating spin-offs from blockbuster hits or developing sequels, providing a bridge for traditional movie enthusiasts to transition to OTT platforms," Jaubin said.

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Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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Published: 07 Dec 2023, 12:19 PM IST
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