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300+ original shows in local languages lined up on top OTT platforms

Leading global OTT players in the country have commissioned or have started production of over 300-odd original shows aimed at persuading more subscribers to move to a subscription model.

The Indian market will be targeted in various languages apart from Hindi. While the production cost varies widely, some sense of the scale can be gauged from Netflix and Amazon Prime jointly spending $500 million for original content in 2021, according to a report by London-based Omdia on Indian online video trends.

Apart from global OTT players, companies such as Zee5 have also been relying on original content although, thanks to the pandemic, the number of original programmes fell in FY22 to only 13 out of 45.

Zee5 has declined to give details of its upcoming pipeline.

Walt Disney which gave out details of its numbers in an analyst call a few weeks ago has commissioned 590 shows globally outside of the US and 100 of these are from India.

India’s importance is evident from the fact that Disney has not bundled its numbers with Asia Pacific though it did not specify how much it would spend here. Disney has a big war chest of $32 billion globally for content. Of this, two thirds will be for non-sports content.

A spokesperson for Amazon Prime said it has announced 42 original titles which will be on the platform in the next two years. That apart, it also has 70 other original shows which are at various stages of development.

Apart from addressing a larger audience in the country, the original content also has a growing market abroad. Gaurav Gandhi, country head of Amazon Prime, said Indian stories were popular abroad.

“We have built a strong slate of locally-produced content across languages serving the diverse entertainment needs of Indian customers. With increased access and distribution, we have helped these stories travel far and wide in India and around the world,” said Gandhi.

Netflix, which is facing tough competition despite its array of global programming, is clearly in the game big time. It has cut its subscription to make it affordable for a larger paying audience. This will reduce its dependence on a niche audience for English and foreign language programming.

Late last year, it had over 90 original shows for India in the pipeline. But Netflix does not divulge whether some of them have already been shown or whether new ones have been added.

The huge numbers can be seen from another perspective. The movie industry also produces content for the theatres, for satellite and, of course, for OTT channels which are always looking for more content. In 2019, a normal year before the pandemic, the total number of Hindi films released was 236, according to Statista – that’s less than the 300 programmes that have been commissioned by just Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney. No wonder numerous movie production houses are joining the OTT original programming bandwagon.

Karan Johar’s Dharmatic (a digital content company) has signed a partnership with Netflix to produce non-fiction. Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies has also signed up with Netflix to make exclusive content. Business Standard

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