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OTT content as family entertainment: An emerging trend?

OTT consumption has begun traversing the distance between the mobile phone and the television set, with a little help from smart TVs and affordable casting solutions like Fire Stick and Chromecast. What does this mean for personal versus family viewing – and how will it impact content?

“OTT platforms are on a hyperdrive,” said Esha Nagar, managing director Nepa India. That means most of the platforms are experimenting with different kinds of content which is changing consumer behaviours in India. She added, that India continues to be a mobile market and most of the digital video is consumed on hand-held devices.

This is how the panel discussion on “OTT content as Family Entertainment” began at the recently concluded vdonxt asia Week. Along with Nagar, Vishnu Mohta of Hoichoi, Ajit Thakur of Aha and ALTBalaji’s Divya Dixit also participated in the panel discussion.

Mohta opined that the phenomenon of viewing on smart television and connected devices is fairly new in the country and the “people are still waking up to it.” He feels it is only recently the smart televisions have become affordable. “More number of people are now watching on smart TVs and connected devices,” he shared.

For Aha which is an OTT platform dishing out Telugu content, about 30 to 40 per cent of the consumption is happening on larger screens at home. Ajit Thakur of Aha said that a lot rests on the kind of content. “When we started devising a strategy on the basis of film acquisition as we could not produce content due to lockdowns last year, we spotted a change. We went beyond Crime, Comedy and Drama and acquired films based on romance and we saw that people started watching together.”

Dark thrillers, crime-based stories, horror are genres that remained underserved on television. Advertisers never liked to get associated with such concepts and therefore the broadcasters do not commission shows on these genres. Thakur said, OTT has provided an opportunity to experiment with genres that were underserved on television. “Docuseries, I feel is a genre that can also work well on OTT,” he added.

“How we define family has also changed,” asserted Vishnu Mohta. His view is that today couples watch an edgy thriller on television and that is their “time together”. He also said that many households in India now have multiple television sets and in some cases, laptops act as television sets. “With Cable operators and DTH playing rolling out smart set-top boxes, more and more television sets in India will get connected and OTT consumption on larger screens will grow.” asserted Mohta.

ALTBalaji now works two parallel tracks, said Divya Dixit. On one side there is content targeted to individual niches and on the other hand, ‘Apaharan’, Mentalhood’, kind of shows are devised to bring in family audiences. When it comes to the latter, Dixit said, “The treatment to such shows completely changes. The dialogues, characters have certain nuances that appeal to a family audience.” Afaqs

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