Content released in local languages is gaining popularity on OTT in India.
When Television became popular in the 1950s, there was an uproar from Theatre owners and Moviemakers that the TV was going to kill the Cinema viewing experience on the big screen as nobody will need to go to a theatre and everyone will be watching in their homes. More than half a century later, theatres are still around and they have only gotten bigger. Since World War II no field has made progress as much as Science and Technology, especially communication. From Computers, Fax Machines, Personal Computers, Pagers, Laptops, Mobile Phones, Touch Phones, iPhone, Tablets to Smart Phones. When Stanley Kubrick made “2001: A Space Odyssey” and we saw the famous scene where the two astronauts are viewing a video on two small devices placed on a table, who would have ever thought that it would be a reality and we will have similar devices in the year 2001.
During the troubling times of the Corona Virus, communication became the most important factor of survival and information. Many of us were thankful that online services existed for groceries and other purchases and also entertainment. There are multiple accounts where people have said that during their quarantine time when they were cut off from the outside world, the thing that helped them to keep on going was entertainment and Streaming or OTT played a vital role. Entertainment and especially movies played an important role during World War II also. Below is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article regarding Films during World War II.
“The film industry during World War II was an important source of communication to the people on all sides. At this time the cinema was the most popular form of entertainment for the people. It was used to entertain, lift spirits, motivate and inform the audience… The film was a powerful force that unified the nations. Cinemas provided for a good place to watch information films...”
This feels very relevant in today’s world as we fight covid with maintaining distance from each other as one of the precautions. And today we have the means to do this even while being isolated.
If we compare the time that took movies from going from the silent era to the voice, black & white to colour, the big screen to television, and of course home media like VCR, DVD, Blu-ray, etc., streaming took the least amount of time to take over the market. The advent of Smart Phones blew the doors open for enormous possibilities for entertainment.
In Wim Wender's 1991 movie “Until the End of the World” the story follows people being obsessed with looking into a digital screen and reliving the same moments over and over again abandoning reality. Once the iPhone was launched & subsequently android gained popularity this became a reality and streaming is just taking it further. In an age where we are digitally connected and socially isolated, streaming is a godsend!
There are many reasons why Streaming popularity, data being cheap across the globe compared to what it said five years ago is one of them. Take India as an example, when Jio launched it almost broke the telecom industry. First with free data for almost a year than at such cheap rates. This is the same time when T-Series became the highest subscribed channel on YouTube.
According to a market study by Ovum of OTT Media Services Consumer Survey & OTT CSP Partnership Study of Five Nations across the Globe following are some of the findings related to the Indian OTT market. India has not only the highest share of paid online video service users but also multi-video subscription users. Local content is important in India’s online video market, with homegrown platforms such as Hotstar, Sony LIV, ZEE5 and Voot among the country’s top providers, alongside the likes of Amazon and Netflix. And these local brands have greater prominence in rural areas. Consumers are also happier to accept advertising and share their personal data for reduced bills.
Recently when Warner Brothers, one of the biggest studios of Hollywood came out with a statement that they will release all their future movies of 2021 directly and only digital on their own streaming service HBO Max the entire industry came to a standstill. This was unheard of, a big studio scrapping all the movie releases from theatres rung a death bell for the multiplexes. To directly release tentpole movies on the digital platform shows how much faith or lack thereof is in theatres currently. Disney has started the day and date release of some of their movies which means movies will be releasing in theatres and on streaming the same day. All the major studios have started their own streaming services, Warner Brothers – HBO Max, Disney – Disney+ & Hulu, Paramount – Paramount+, Universal – Peacock, and of course Netflix and Amazon Studios and let’s add AppleTV+ and who can forget the good old YouTube who started it all. With Sony probably gearing up for their own streaming service the circle completes.
So, has streaming won this war? Maybe temporarily. Trends always change. The industry standard of films has always been derived from two places one is gaming and another is porn. Any popular trend first comes from these two and whichever gets popular will come into the mainstream. We all remember how big of a thing 3D was just a decade ago. Movies were made for 3D viewing and some of the relatively old movies were converted to 3D for the viewers to experience them in the new technology.
The current trend is VR or Virtual Reality coupled with 3D, where you put on glass and experience the video as if you are in the environment in 360°. The immersion you get from 360° videos is just spectacular and you won't be able to go back. So, see you in the future then!
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