Amazon Prime Video gives surprise through India’s entertainment industry by announcing the premiere of Shoojit Sircar’s Gulabo Sitabo
- Amitabh Bachchan
- Ayushmann Khurrana
on its platform on June 12.
The film was to release on April 17, but the nationwide lockdown pushed it towards uncertainty.
As theatres and multiplexes shut down, releases were halted, and films already running were also pulled out.
Releases bring in revenues, which in turn, help production costs.
Every single day of delay means additional costs bear by the film studios. This has producers to look towards OTT platforms for direct-to-digital releases.
The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) urged producers and studio partners to honour the “exclusive theatrical window” of a film.
A 60-day gap between theatrical and OTT releases.
“We urge all studios, producers, artistes and other content creators, to kindly respect the exclusive theatrical window,
which has been a time-tested industry practice, agree to by all stakeholders, not just in India, but even globally, for several decades”
Amazon Prime Video went on to not only announce the premiere of Gulabo Sitabo,
but also revealed that it has six other Indian films for its ‘direct-to-digital’.
These include the much-awaited Shakuntala Devi biopic starring Vidya Balan.
Five regional language films that will premier exclusively on Prime Video in the next three months across 200+ countries.
After Amazon Prime Video,
Netflix announce on Tuesday that it would be premiering Anurag Kashyap’s directorial Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai on June 5.
Even though a direct-to-digital release isn’t unheard of globally in 2019,
Martin Scorsese bypass a theatrical release and ‘dropped’ The Irishman straight onto Netflix in India.
Amazon’s decision has opened a can of worms that stands to affect all stakeholders in showbiz OTTs,
Film exhibitors, multiplexes, producers, studios, and even viewers.
What is OTT Platforms
OTTs would end up being the dumping ground for inferior quality content, and even unreleased titles.
But by signing up Bollywood A-listers like Bachchan, Khurrana, and Balan It turned around.
A direct OTT release takes Indian films global instantly to every market that Amazon Prime Video operates in.
It allows viewers to enjoy fresh content from safety of their homes and fulfils social distancing norms.
Not just Prime Video and Netflix, but even ZEE5 India is premiering Nawazuddin Siddiqui-Anurag Kashyap starrer Ghoomketu on May 22.
The film is all set for an Eid release on Friday.
ZEE5 has lined up 15 direct-to-digital releases for FY21.
The homegrown OTT operator is positive that consumer habit formation and behaviour post the pandemic will influence this trends.
ZEE5 claims to have recorded an 80 percent growth in subscription and a 92 percent surge in movie streaming within the first month of the lockdown.
ZEE Said :
“The winds have shifted” in the favour of a digital world for entertainment, according to the company. “The numbers reflect the immense potential and reach of this segment,”
“Digital releases are convenient to schedule and are promote as extensively as a theatrical release.
Economically too, digital rights are something which production houses can benefit further from and for platforms,
these convert into new subscribers and streaming hours.”
Direct-to-digital releases can not only grow app downloads,
But also convert non-paid users to premium ones, and even bring in new unique users to the OTT platforms.
More fresh films will expand their content libraries,
Make them more diverse, and open up new avenues for a film’s monetisation.
It could even fetch top-tier advertisers and brands to OTT platforms in the long run.
Strategies | Revenue Models
Almost all stakeholders in showbiz that digital film premiers will cover the way for newer business models and content strategies.
One of the things OTT operators are deliberating right now is the pay-per-view (PPV) model,
Which hasn’t seen much success in India so far.
PPV, where users pay for only one title at a time, not only democratises content access,
But also generates a steady stream of revenue and audience interest for the OTTs.
Barring Google Play Movies and YouTube, no video streaming platform in India currently offers PPV.
Apple TV allows users to watch non-Apple content on a single-title basis, but only if they already have an Apple TV subscription.
PPV exists only in a limited form. That could change going ahead.
ZEE Said :
“Movies are a great source of customer acquisition as well as retention. We do expect newer revenue models to emerge in the near future, one among which could definitely be PPV,”
This means when OTTs shell out more money for acquiring new films,
it can impact their content budgets for other projects, including their own original shows.
The grapevine suggests that both Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are slashing budgets and re-negotiating deals that were close pre-lockdown.
OTT executives believe that in the long run,
The mode of a film’s release will depend on its cast, content, and production budget.
Box Office Business
India is estimate to have 9,600 screens, including 3,000-odd multiplex ones.
Box Office still account for the largest share (50-55 percent) of a film’s overall revenues, according to a FICCI-KPMG study.
The slow expansion of physical screens and a parallel surge in OTT consumption is slowly yet surely shifting the balance towards digital.
In 2019, films’ digital revenues grew by nearly 30 percent, while theatricals were up less than 15 percent.
With the pandemic expected to put brakes on the launch of new screens because of stringent sanitisation and social distancing guidelines,
Multiplexes and film exhibitors have their task cut out.
PVR’s peer INOX has reacted more strongly against direct-to-digital releases, calling it “alarming and disconcerting”.
It has even warned producers and studios of retributive measures.
Surely, this polarisation won’t die down soon, not until the pandemic is over.
But when it does, it may have disrupted many long-existing business models.
ZEE5’s Said :
“With the probability of restrictions on outdoor activities and gatherings continuing for quite some time,
Direct-to-digital releases is the best option for producers. This trend is a necessity given the current circumstances.
we hope to nurture a healthy relationship between OTT platforms and theatres by providing good content to everyone.”
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