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OTT winning Oscars

CODA, released by Apple TV+, is a heartwarming film about a deaf family and their daughter who pursues passion for music. She is the only one who can hear and talk. (VO 1) After winning favour with audiences, it won the best picture Oscar. This was the first instance of a streaming service receiving the film industry’s highest honour. CODA knocked out Netflix’s The Power of the Dog and submissions by other traditional Hollywood studios to win this award. Its success at the Oscars has also introduced the tech giant as a serious Hollywood player.

However, even before CODA went on to win big, the likes of The Wall Street Journal had already declared that the real competition at the Oscars was between Apple and Netflix. The performance of over-the-top or OTT platforms in the past year’s Oscars justifies this statement.

At the 2021 Oscars, Netflix snatched seven Oscars from five films. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video bagged another two. With that, a new record was set for streaming platform films winning it big. In fact, with 47 combined nominations, OTT dominated the nominations at Oscars 2021. The year before that, the same number stood at 25.

But, what does a win at the Oscars mean for streaming platforms? Looking at the case of Apple TV+ can provide an answer. As The Wall Street Journal explains, streamers have attached an outsized importance to the Oscars as they want to be taken seriously in the movie business.

The Oscars recognition will bolster awareness for Apple TV+ as it competes for subscribers with Netflix and Disney. Furthermore, being in the contention for and winning major awards could convince producers that the likes of an Apple TV+ are an appropriate platform for high-profile television shows and films. In short, it lends prestige, provides visibility, and attracts bigger film-makers.

All of this comes at a time when the global OTT market has received a considerable boost thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing affordable data and mobile revolution taking place in parts of the world.

The industry has also seen a rapid rise in India during the same period.

But, will this big Oscar win affect OTT’s Indian viewership in anyway. The answer seems no.

A recent Ficci EY report says that the share of regional languages in overall OTT video content will double from 27% in 2020 to 54% in 2024. In 2021, 47% of OTT originals and 69% of films released on platforms were not in Hindi.

According to a report by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Boston Consulting Group, OTT services and gaming are now driving the growth in India’s media and entertainment industry, helping it grow 12-16% year-on-year in 2021 to a market size of 27 billion dollars.

At present, OTT accounts for a 7-9 per cent market share in the 27-billion-dollar Indian M&E industry. By 2030, its market share is expected to rise to 22%-25%. At the same time, television’s market share is set to fall from around 35% to 24%.

The growth in subscription-based OTT services comes on the back of improved internet and smartphone penetration and payment mechanisms.

Pricing innovations are another driving factor. For example, Netflix has been offering its India plans at affordable prices, compared to the prices it charges in other geographies. According to the CII-BCG report, the Indian pricing plans of global streaming giants are, on average, 70-90% cheaper than their prices for the US market.

Meanwhile, local OTT players have also entered the fray, driving a reduction in prices for such services.

However, the picture is not rosy for all players. Netflix, for example, has not been able to crack the Indian market. Netflix was launched in India in January 2016. As of January this year, it was a distant third in the country. While the company doesn’t reveal how many subscribers it has, one research firm has claimed that it has around 5.5 million Indian subscribers. Meanwhile, the research firm has said that Amazon Prime and Hotstar, Netflix’s primary competitors, are far ahead with 22 million and 46 million subscribers, respectively.

The only way forward it seems is more local content. VOOT, SonyLIV and Disney+ Hotstar are also acquiring films in the four southern languages besides Marathi and Punjabi.

All the streaming platforms are trying to increase the viewership and looking beyond metros. And the key to expansion in tier-two and tier-three towns is quality content in local languages. Business Standard

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