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Ready OTT shows struggle to find buyers

With over-the-top (OTT) platforms spending less on content, various small-time producers who have created independent web series for streaming services are struggling to find buyers, according to a report by Mint. Industry executives informed Mint that around 30 to 40 small-scale productions, made at a cost of Rs 7-8 crore each, are finding it difficult to secure buyers.

Typically, OTT platforms commission long-format web series and subsequently invest in production. However, the robust demand for shows and films during the pandemic lured many newcomers into producing web series with the hope of pitching them to streaming services later.

Nimisha Pandey, chief content officer of Hindi originals at ZEE5, noted that costs are being rationalised across platforms. During the lockdown, streaming services were compelled to pick up content quickly, even if they were dissatisfied with the quality, due to a surge in demand and disrupted production schedules. Presently, with no shortage of content, there is less room for average-quality offerings. While this may appear to be bad news for some, it signifies that mediocrity will no longer suffice.

An executive at a content studio mentioned that the model of producing and shooting web series first and then pitching them to streaming platforms is viable only in rare instances, such as with the Aditya Birla-owned production house Applause Entertainment.

Another executive highlighted that this is a grave issue for those without leverage. Moreover, numerous investors are deceived into funding shows that never see the light of day, as web series production is a largely unorganised business. It has lately become common for producers to settle for lower prices on smaller platforms after facing rejection from larger ones. Many shows are either sold at a loss or barely break even.

According to industry experts, there has been a decline in both the number of web series commissioned by streaming platforms and the budgets allocated for them. Karan Taurani, an analyst at Elara Capital Ltd, told Mint that platforms are now less willing to experiment with genres and prefer sticking to proven templates. Production houses experiencing slowed growth will bear the brunt of this downturn, he added.

Siddharth Anand Kumar, senior vice president of films and events at Saregama India Ltd, stated that content must now be more palatable, especially with the introduction of stricter government regulation and AVoD (advertising-based video on demand) models. The trend of streaming platforms cutting back on spending has been evident for some time now. Business Standard

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