Sameer Nair: The OTT business is really the IPL of content

Sameer Nair: The OTT business is really the IPL of content

Not that you can time it – a day before the OTT head honchos of Hitlist Awards on a Zoom call, along with India’s top content boss, Netflix founder Reed Hastings elsewhere dropped a truth bomb.

Of all the major markets, Reeds said, Netflix is ​​yet to overtake India. This was followed by social media handles suggesting what Netflix should be doing, where it went wrong – a bunch of SWOT analyses, if you can.

Sameer Nair (Applause Entertainment) feels it’s like giving boxing lessons to Mike Tyson, who is going through a purple patch: “Netflix is ​​a leader in how the streaming business is done. And India has always been a complex, hungry, but price-conscious market, which has tasted blood even during the pandemic.

Even cable TV is pathetic here at $3 a month. Everywhere, it’s $20-30. Satellite TV has 200 million viewers, OTT platforms 30-40 million. We talk of ‘cutting the (cable) cord’ – why bother; It’s just there!”

(Clockwise from top) Sameer Nair, CEO, Applause Entertainment; Nimisha Pandey, Chief Content Officer, Hindi Original – Zee5; Madhu Bhojwani, Partner, Emme Entertainment; Pratiksha Rao, Director – Films & Licensing, India, Netflix; Aparna Purohit, Head, India Originals, Amazon Prime Video; Arunabh Kumar, Founder TVF; Mayank Shekhar, Entertainment Editor, Mid-Day; Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions and Dharmatic

Pratiksha Rao (Netflix India), on the other hand, takes this unsolicited, social-media advice as game, calling it “a huge privilege that people perceive to brand Netflix as a passion. We consider ourselves as creative enablers.” Let’s see, there are partners for diverse stories, as we can, to make them travel globally too,” apart from offering global (original) content on the platform itself.

To be fair, as per estimates, Netflix has around 5 percent share in the Indian OTT market; Its revenue share is close to 30 per cent. At present, there are around 75 OTT platforms in India. And of the 225 new shows streamed in 2021, 170 were in Hindi alone. A certain level of division has clearly occurred in an industry that is almost five years old.

Nimisha Pandey (ZEE5) revealed that her platform delivered 40 pieces of original content (series/movies) in 2021: “We plan to focus more on quality.” Aparna Purohit (Amazon Prime Video) agrees that her mandate is not even volume. Given that the streaming service is part of an overall shopping mall.

“Pressure is something that constantly raises the bar—become a part of cultural-spirited, water-cooler conversations; be it Paatal Lok or Mirzapur. It is not easy pressure; even we have done 18 shows and 50 films across languages. in (in 2021).

With its own captive subscriber/audience base, OTT can be considered as the new star-system for Indian entertainment. Those one-sided green-light scripts—for films, and shows that are shot like cinema. And, in return, receive both immense love and immediate criticism for the choices they make.

Speaking of the star-system, which is directly related to theatrical entertainment – whatever happened to Bollywood, as it was, which made 80 crores between Hollywood (Spider-Man) and Down South (Pushpa, which made Hindi). Collected Rs., outperformed by both. Viewers alone)?

One of the controversies behind this threat to Bollywood is that most of Mumbai’s top, traditional producers have become sellers for OTT platforms in the process.

Apoorva Mehta (Dharma Productions, which is largely on par with Bollywood), reasoned, “While the theatrical cornerstone is there, the heart is contained. South is filling a gap. Very few Hindi filmmakers, like Rohit Shetty, pursue mass entertainment.” are great with giving.”
Arunabh Kumar (TVF) points out that the other unheard of aspect of the South’s emerging, theatrical dominance in Hindi markets, is the serious upgrade in the quality of Hindi dubbing, subtitles and translation – something that was not appreciated enough for Allu Arjun. Pushpa.

Certainly television, and more OTT platforms, and internet access in general, have played a part with audiences sampling cinema/content/stardom from other Indian languages, including other Indian languages.

As for his own Hindi films, Mehta says he had to make do with the war-tent Shershaah (2021) on Amazon Prime Video (APV), as he captured it for more than a year after the pandemic: “We Couldn’t Miss” on August 15th.” Also, no one is quite sure what the reaction to a mid-range production like Gehraiyan (even on APV) will be in a theatre: “larger than life, experiential There is an inclination towards entertainment.”

What’s not to learn when movie studios enter the streaming fray? How are OTT and film industries different? Bollywood producer Madhu Bhojwani (Emme Entertainment), who delivered 10 OTT titles in 2021 (including Empire and Mumbai Diaries 26/11), compares the two financial worlds with farming and hunting. The OTT industry promises predictable returns on an input cost: “There’s a limit to how much you can earn.”

“The upside, even once you bet on a film’s intellectual property,” depends on performance in the theater: “Movies are like a race.”

The other changing dynamic between the two industries is, of course, the star-system itself. Lead actors in Bollywood are notorious for taking a major chunk of the film’s budget as salary. Do they matter on OTT now?

TVF’s Kumar says streaming platforms are democratic, in the sense that they don’t grade the content on your device based on who’s in it. The library is close to infinite (for a lifetime anyway). Unlike network television, where you can only watch one show at a time; and theaters, which can only play a certain number of movies.

However, the initial buzz that a show/film is likely to originate on an OTT cannot be denied, given a legacy star in it. Netflix’s Rao is clear, “The script and the producer’s vision are the most important things in assessing a project, yes. There is still a commercial value attached to the power of the big talents who have built up a filmography and fan base over the years.

While they have to provide that value, they also have to be used properly, as we do in America. [Conversely]you can have one [Malayalam super-hero film] Minnal Murali who generates her own fantasy. There was no big star in the film. but [Tavino Thomas] After became a national heartbeat.”

The barometer for cinema stardom, at the box-office par, is not clicks on OTT platforms, as Zee5’s Pandey explains: “Clicks are just a vanity metric. Taking samples is not good. Once you get clicked—how long you stick with the content matters more in the long run.”

And that is why, according to APV’s Purohit, “There is no rush. You don’t need to prove the success of a movie or series over the weekend [unlike box-office], The audience finally surprised us.”

OTT platforms seen as a parallel to the film industry rather than television – despite the disproportionate size of the screen – is clearly for the budget involved. And in fact the cross-pollination of talents that took place in the last half decade.

Unlike the US, which moved towards limited edition, quality series in the late 1990s, Indian network TV continued to appeal to the mass market, mainly with longer-running soap operas, to name but a few. With very little encouragement. “This is India’s HBO moment,” says Nair to applause.

Being part of the three worlds, how do the Nairs view these industries differently? He says, “There are many ways to describe it. One that I find useful is playing the film business for the national cricket team—11 players for over a billion.

The fiction on TV is domestic cricket. The people involved hope to make it from there. The OTT business is really the IPL of content- it includes both domestic and international players, with quality on display; Everyone finds their moment under the sun. ,

In the food-chain on the Internet, there is actually a more competitive level below the IPL of content. That’s where TVF’s Kumar progressed by creating spoofed and branded content on YouTube, free for all—beginning with a sketch called Rowdy’s in 2012, culminating with Kota Factory, the second season of which made it to Netflix.

In 2022, Kumar asserted, “Many people on YouTube from a decade ago are currently subscribers to the OTT platform. That’s the cascading effect. Likewise, there’s now a whole new world of 18-year-olds on YouTube consuming short videos for which we also create content—being the only collective from the old lot that continues.”

This material economy is also a producer economy. Everyone is an aspirant who has an idea for a feature, short or series; Showcasing talent all day, online. Many of whom, we believe, may be interested in interacting with these OTT owners.

All of which suggests their inboxes are open to new ideas. Kumar cautions, however, that the idea alone is hardly as important as the rigor and effort to detail a plan that should be 5,000 pages, minimum: “An idea makes no sense. I would value discipline over talent any day.”

There is also a ‘Bible’, which Zee5’s Pandey defines as a detailed presentation that captures the treatment of an idea/story, which sometimes includes scenes.

Whether it’s the Bible or the synopsis of the story, says Rao for Netflix, what’s essential is “if you’re able to break out, what’s on your mind. Focus on explaining the story and its feelings.” Instead of saying, it’s ‘the best’, or it’s India’s version of xyz!” If you were searching for a favorite genre to sell, APV’s purveyor makes it public: He’s actively looking for young adult fiction.

A safe zone, no doubt. Given that OTT is no longer quite a brave new world, until only a year ago – the government implemented undeniably harsh censorship laws, skewed towards accepting complaints from any viewer of OTT platforms on which Action had to be taken. By three-tier crime and punishment system.

Bhojwani is part of the government’s second-tier committee, consisting of industry leaders and members of civil society – the first being the OTT platform itself; The third tier consists of several central ministries.

“Ever since this grievance-redressal council was formed, there have been a lot of complaints. But it is working fine, so far,” says Bhojwani. So far, being the essential rider. In Dharma Mehta is not taking any risk, the script is being scrutinized by the legal teams, which spells potential trouble.

Though Nair—who has recently turned away from Danish Sait’s smart political satire, the humble politician Nograj—reasons, you have to do what you have to do: “The makers both reflect society and have mirrors—telling stories. You are not there; you are looking for ways. All great arts grow on these basic principles. The bigger danger than censorship is self-censorship.”

There is currently a moment of silence on the part of the masters of the OTT platform in this tussle. Well. That’s understandable.

a pick of 2021

Sameer Nair: Jerry Seinfeld’s Stand-Up Special, 23 Hours to Kill (Netflix)
Madhu Bhojwani: Mini-series, Dopesic (Disney+ Hotstar)
Apoorva Mehta: German Multi-Part Series, Dark (Netflix)
Nimisha Pandey: TVF Series Aspirants (YouTube)
Arunabh Kumar: Anglo-Japanese thriller film, Kate (Netflix)
Aparna Purohit: Cop investigative series, The Mare of Easttown (Disney+ Hotstar)
Pratiksha Rao: The Morning Show, Season 2 (Apple TV)

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