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OTT players aim to carve a niche with originals

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MUMBAI: Catch-up content, popular TV shows and a library full of good movies can make an over-the-top (OTT) platform an attractive proposition to viewers but it is a good original show that can turn the viewer into a subscriber. With more than 30 frontline OTT players, platforms are frantically working to create originals to boost subscription or advertising revenue.

Good content will ensure you stand out anywhere with a seasoning of marketing and advertising. Hence, platforms, such as Sony Liv, Eros Now, Hooq and Hotstar, which started out with syndicated content, are looking to invest increasingly in original content. Zee5 and AltBalaji, however, launched with original offerings right from the start.

Initially, they acquired rights for movies and TV shows and knew it was time to come up their own stuff when audiences stuck to TV. A recent Hotstar report claimed that there was a five-fold growth in online video consumption with 96 per cent of it coming from content longer than 20 minutes. According to market research firm Counterpoint, the OTT market is expected to grow 35 per cent year-on-year, currently holding 100 million subscribers.

Even international players in the Indian market are planning specific originals for audiences of the country. Netflix India recently premiered Love Per Square Foot, a full-length Hindi romance. The OTT giant will premier Sacred Games on 6 July, an episodic show starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, which will be available for the global audience too. To make the local connection strong, Netflix has chosen Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane as directors and their production house Phantom Films.

Netflix is aware that India is a big market and second only to Mexico when it comes to binge watching in public. For 2018 itself, it has kept aside a chest of $8 billion for original content. For India, it is looking at increasing partnerships with local content creators. It has just announced another original Indian film. Titled Lust Stories, it will be directed by four prominent names – Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee.

In an earlier interview with Indiantelevision.com, Netflix VP communications-Asia Jessica Lee said, “We are committed to working with producers, creators, talent and crew in India to create more great content. We are constantly innovating to enhance our member experience to be able to better serve members and provide more control over their watching experience.”

Amazon Prime Video, the big competitor of Netflix has also started huge investment in original Indian shows going beyond its rich collection of Bollywood movies. After the success of Inside Edge and Breathe, the platform will gift viewers many originals including Made in Heaven and Mirzapur. Not surprisingly, each episode costs Rs 1-2 crore to create and it is hoping the return will happen soon.

According to FICCI’s latest media report, 70 per cent of content consumed was less than a year old while those beyond this range made up just 15 per cent. It is no wonder that creators must always be giving people something new to snack on.

Eros Digital CEO Rishika Lulla Singh mentioned earlier that the platform will come up with six to eight originals in FY 2018-19. Show launches will happen in the second half of the year. While renowned directorial talents will extend their creative support for Eros Now Originals, the shows will be across diverse genres.

Zee5 has also announced the launch of 20 new originals across different languages and diverse genres. Zee5 digital head Archana Anand believes original content is a powerful tool to draw viewers. The OTT space even allows for more experimentation than TV broadcast. The main aim is to ensure the viewers can’t get enough of your content and will not hesitate to spend some bucks.

Among other platforms, Hooq, which is famous for its Hollywood movie collection, will launch its first ever original series soon, selecting the best from five original selected screenplays premiered as pilot episodes. Among the five competing pilots is also an Indian series: Bhak (India), Haunt Me (Singapore), How To Be A Good Girl (Singapore), Aliansi (Indonesia) and Heaven and Hell (Indonesia). The new trend is also expanding scope for production houses, aspiring actors and new directors in the industry.

OTT is also waking up to the giant within the country – regional content. They’ve realised that English and Hindi won’t cut out for people. With the existent content online, the FICCI report states that just 7 per cent viewership comes from English content, 63 per cent from Hindi and 30 per cent from other languages. It is the last set that players are keen to tap and grow.

Instead of mass marketing, OTT platforms are targeting individuals by providing them with options of their taste and preference.

With eyes shifting from TVs to your palm-held devices, even broadcasters (such as Zee) aren’t far behind in wooing audiences. The best is yet to come.

Also Read :

Zee5 launches 20 originals to drive up subscription

OTT experts discuss future of India's hybrid market

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