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EntertainmentOTT trends to look out for in 2021

OTT trends to look out for in 2021

Published: 2nd Jan 2021 12:47 pm

New Delhi: Video content gained much importance in the past year, and digital streaming and over-the-top (OTT) platforms got a bigger seat at the table as movies began to be released directly on some top platforms. There was a welcome flux of fresh, engaging content. Industry sources predict trends in 2021 which could rule the OTT space.

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Veteran producer Anand Pandit said, “As artists, creators and consumers of art in all spaces, we will continue to adapt to whatever the new normal throws at us. As a producer, I see more and more content and its delivery being digitised for more accessibility. We will find a way to not just create but to reach even those we could not earlier because as some doors close, many others will open and I mean in terms of not just OTT platforms but on content sharing platforms.

Story-telling will become more and more democratised as the pandemic has shown us just how powerful the act of sharing personal experiences of survival and resilience can be. And the content we create will have to become more specific to the times, more intimate, more driven by our realities. We will have to be more contextual, more relevant and more empathetic when we ideate films and shows because 2020 has taught us some hard lessons.”

“As the world went into lockdown, lots of people embraced OTT platforms for their main source of entertainment. Without any doubt, OTT video is driving the future of home entertainment. In such competitive space, it’s important that streaming service providers customise their content to match the ever-changing expectations of viewers. Personalisation of content will play a major role in 2021 and will be a key differentiator as viewers are looking for a personalised viewing experience. Personalisation will make it super convenient for viewers, it could be achieved from strategising recommendation engines, tailored content or adaptable user experiences,” Rohit Jain, Managing Director, South Asia and Networks – Emerging Markets Asia at Lionsgate said.

Producer and filmmaker Puneet Singh said, “With the environment still being uncertain we can only hope positively for cinema, that it will get us the theater experience soon, but the impact and market size of what OTT has created cannot be ignored. Reports say that the India OTT content market will reach $5 bn in size by 2023, it cannot be a better thing to know that we have a great future as with OTT, while we wait for theatres to reopen soon.”

Director Girish Malik said, “OTT’s growth has been accelerated due to the pandemic. But it was growing anyway. And with faster, cheaper and more accessible internet even in small towns and villages, it will remain a dominant way for entertainment to reach people. While OTT is personalised, convenient and provides variety.

Cinema is a community experience. Going to the cinema is an event. People are still going to go for it. I feel it will take a little more time for people to get comfortable going to cinemas, probably by mid 2021. But the thing to look forward to is how the exposure to this varied content will shape the taste of the people and how and whether it will affect the content we see in cinemas.”

According to Ganesh Iyer – Executive Vice President & National Head, Mirchi Originals, the forced lockdown from March to around August has had a direct impact on the content production cycle and therefore “a lot of shows are delayed; new releases are not as prolific as they could have otherwise been” but that apart, a few things that are likely to happen in the OTT space in 2021:

Regionalisation of content in the true sense – 5-6 platforms of the big platforms have been making sporadic inroads into the non-Hindi market with original content (apart from catch-up TV content that the broadcaster backed platforms already offer) but expect the traction to grow significantly in 2021.

And much of the growth is likely to come not from these national players whose tentpole focus will continue to be Hindi, but from regional single-language focused platforms like Aha (Telugu), and Hoichoi (Bengali). The explosion of growth in video consumption is already coming from regional markets as per most reports – it is now time for quality supply to show up. This is a big investment long-term game, so don’t be surprised if a few regional cash-rich film production houses/media conglomerates throw their hats into the ring.

Films direct to OTT – Again the lockdown has seen a plethora of movies across sizes and languages, otherwise planned for theatrical release, going direct to OTT, but expect this to become a permanent trend starting immediately.

Not only do filmmakers get to tell stories that are otherwise not commercially viable (given the disproportionate dependence on theatrical revenues and the inability of theatres to release niche movies within the 52 Fridays available every year), but viewers also get to consume a variety of genres, beyond what is otherwise dished out and therefore become deeper consumers of OTT platforms.

More important, for platforms too, this is not a totally unviable stream (we are not talking only deep pockets here) since movies tend to find their own audiences across geographies and over time, the luxury of which both, OTT platforms have – unlike the limited domestic theatrical week-on-week seat inventory.

Interactive, real time content – With terms like AR and VR becoming more and more prevalent, and with interaction on social media playing a key added role, content is likely to go more real-time and interactive – in terms of co-creation, on-the-go dynamics, multiple endings and even reward based shows. We are still a few years away from this going more mainstream and we have had international examples like ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ but expect a few big Indian originals to try this route out.

Opening up of genres – The success of intense grim dramas like ‘Mirzapur’, ‘Ashram’, ‘Patal Lok’, etc. (Scam was an outlier but was still intense) has forced most platforms to create similar offerings, but something’s gotta give as they say. All it takes is for a few good shows of a totally different kind to turn the tide to get platforms to green light shows across multiple genres including romantic and slice-of-life comedies. ‘Panchayat’ was a sole runner in 2020, but likely a few others will emerge in 2021 and change this, giving viewers varied choices, and also bringing more consumers into the OTT net (given that dark dramas with sex/violence/abusive language make for uncomfortable viewing in a family set-up).

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