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T-Series forays into OTT content space

India’s largest music label, T-Series, is set to foray into the over-the-top (OTT) content space this year and is looking to produce 3-4 long-format web originals every year.

The firm, which started producing films a few years ago, has lined up a biopic on the life of choreographer Saroj Khan and has acquired the rights to a book on the life of VG Siddhartha, the founder of Café Coffee Day. It has also started working on a show with director Hansal Mehta while a show for Disney+Hotstar has been completed and is slated for release later this year.

Considering that most theatrical releases have met with poor response from the audience, T-Series is also looking to launch 4-5 direct-to-OTT movies every year. “OTT platforms have emerged in a big way since the onset of covid, and most people are turning to them for a daily dose of content. As a content provider, we cannot leave the opportunity of catering to that base of consumers,” Shiv Chanana, senior vice president, films, Super Cassettes Industries Pvt. Ltd, which owns T-Series, said in an interview.

The company has five shows in various stages of development, and is working on both platform commissioned series, and pitching ideas to OTT services for content. Budgets for the content may vary between ₹20 crore and ₹100 crore, said Chanana.

While dabbling with genres such as comedy, thriller and biopics, the firm is also playing to its core strength to develop a full-fledged musical for Amazon Prime Video, he added.

These shows will primarily be shot in Hindi but subsequently be dubbed in multiple languages, in line with strategies of OTT players.

Chanana said it takes a minimum to one-and-a-half to two years to develop, shoot and put a show together, which is why the company is looking at four originals per year, though may eye higher volumes with time. “Music and films are both priorities for us. But as theatre-going audiences respond differently to new content, we’re trying to focus on what works best and not green-lighting anything in a hurry. We were earlier looking at 15-20 films per year but now we are looking at 10-12 cinema releases.”

With a few recent T-Series productions such as Shehzada, An Action Hero and Vikram Vedha failing to draw viewers to cinemas, it has decided to opt for direct-to-OTT releases across genres, including horror, comedy and thriller, that may not be fit for big screens. The company will release four to five of these across streaming platforms every year.

T-Series’ move comes amid cost-cutting initiatives by OTT platforms, including reducing the budgets for content, in the face of rising cases of piracy, and muted subscriber growth, which are impacting revenue. Live Mint

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