Opinion: The current state of the Indian OTT industry...

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Kartik Kalla, Chief Creative Officer of Radio City talks about the current state of the Indian OTT industry, rehashing content trends seen.

OTT platforms have enthralled and entertained the audience like never before and all of us have enjoyed choosing from a wide plethora of content available at our disposal. There is phenomenal growth in the OTT industry in transforming the consumption experience of viewers. The lockdown altered the way we as an audience consumed entertaining stories with OTT platforms coming to everyone’s rescue. The pandemic saw a huge boost in content consumption on OTT platforms and viewers across age groups have embraced the real-life characters and storylines that portray everyday stories and narratives that have eventually given a rise to the phenomenon of binge-watching.

OTT - A Destination for Quality Content

The OTT platforms cemented their place in providing an apt form of entertainment in the digital age that the youth of our country can enjoy in the comfort of their home. By surpassing the challenges faced by traditional media such as TVs and theatres, OTT has been able to penetrate within the dense social fabric to entertain and increase mass volume consumption across its various genres, from sports, dramas, thrillers to even films being launched on OTT.

We have seen how the choice to view your preferred genre can also influence how one experiments with other shows that were previously not on their watchlist.

In today’s time, audiences are spoilt for choice to consume content across varied genres such as action, adventures, animation, biography, comedy, crime, documentary, drama, family, fantasy, history, horror, musical, mystery, romance, sci-fi, sports, thriller, war, and western shows, all under one roof. Gone were the days when the elderly audience restricted their content consumption experience to watching daily soaps. Web series that typically regale viewers with a mixed bag of subplots have had most takers from households that were previously only restricted to specific legacy shows.

Gen Z & Millennials Leading the Consumption Pattern for OTT

As per industry reports, the largest contributors to the OTT consumption trend have been millennials and Gen Z, who brought about a phenomenon of binge-watching on their smartphones and other portable devices. The sheer availability of affordable subscription plans by leading OTT platforms that

include multi-format subscription models being offered by major media brands has led to an increase in subscribers. This has eventually led to a significant rise in multiple OTT apps being present on consumers’ devices and a meteoric rise in watch time among Gen Z and millennials. This goes on

to show that quality will continue to lay precedence over the number of apps and content will always be the king.

Rise of Korean, Spanish & Foreign Dramas

In inclination toward K-pop culture, K-drama has grown tremendously in India. A large number of Gen Z and millennial audiences in our country are hooked on global content in Korean, Spanish, and various other languages. Pandemic led to the discovery of this new age offering as consumers love

content woven around inspiring storylines and realistic characters. The popularity of K-dramas, Spanish, and Thai web series that portray real-life themes gives a clear model for local content producers to tailor stories that resemble the lives of people. Language barriers have been uprooted from the equation that now favours good quality stories, whether it be of a chemistry professor turning his scientific knowledge into making addictive crystals or a group of motivated individuals daring to pull off a heist in front

of the nation and the police authorities.

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It is due to a diverse mix of stories that have led the OTT industry to grow with a 45.5% growth rate forecasted between 2019 to 2026. The influential choice of leading OTT players to showcase Indian - based series on their platforms led to other Indian makers and content producers build stories that are ‘desi yet creative’ at their core. This adaption of daily storylines to recite how different facets of the society have colours and tones that are sometimes hidden from the masses brought about a huge appreciation and approval of the viewers.

With the popularity growing and the Indian stories making the top viewership slots, OTT platforms are focused on tales that highlighted the local content portrayed in top cinematic style and told with a larger variation suited for the younger audiences. This has also given a rise to increasing collaborations with popular cinema directors and producers to help augment the entertainment level of the OTT medium.

Media Interplay Between Broadcast Radio & OTT

Capturing the essence of everyday life and culling out new instances of how stereotypes in daily life have influenced and challenged us to create new quality stories that can be myth busters. One such everyday story is how women drivers are looked down upon and we began to change the narrative to - your sister will drive. That was how we started the campaign - GaadiTeriBehanChalaegi around International Women’s Day.

Communication Lessons Brands Can Emulate

One of the key lessons that brands can learn from the OTT breakthrough is evolving hybrid and flexible monetization models that will continue to change with the evolution of the consumers’ preferences. This is critical because the dense diversity and larger fragmentation will allow more players to further diversify their portfolio and create a robust offering that will capitulate the consumers into being addicted to the stories told on the OTT platforms.

Another lesson on communication is to do with the freedom of length of the narrative. While films and TV had a restriction on both the production as well as the showcasing of the story, OTT content makers can focus on building quality web series with multiple seasons to take the story and their characters forward. This freedom is very crucial to tapping and hooking the youth as they have evolved and prefer to consume content at their own convenience.

Apart from the foreign genres dominating the Indian OTT platforms, the ‘cord cutting’ phenomenon has continued to accelerate among over 65% of households as they eliminated traditional TV services while opting for OTT subscriptions.

This has also created a space for existing TV channels to showcase their content on their TV apps to entertain their legacy viewership profiles. Following this trend, we have also seen an upsurge in the popularity of one of our marquee properties Hitlist OTT awards that has the viewers cast their vote and participate in increasing numbers to have their preferred character and artist win. This year’s Hitlist OTT Awards saw over 2.97mn votes where audiences voted for their favourite talent from the OTT industry.

Similar to the popular film and TV awards, the increasing popularity of organic OTT awards that are embedded with a public voting format has not only gained an appreciation but also recognition for makers and artists to create the best that creative content has to offer. While OTT has enhanced the way stories are narrated on the small screens, it has built a need for all the players and producers to create more innovative shows and series to breakthrough through the growing clutter.

The article has been authored by Kartik Kalla, Chief Creative Officer, Radio City.

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