Changing OTT Landscape: the good, the bad, and what comes next

Explore the evolving landscape of OTT platforms in India, from their revolutionary impact on cinematic consumption to the challenges posed by shifting trends and content strategies.

Changing OTT Landscape: the good, the bad, and what comes next

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The growth of OTT in the Indian subcontinent has revolutionized the way we consume cinematic content. With the onset of the global pandemic in 2019, the rise of video streaming OTT platforms dramatically altered the landscape of film and television, witnessing significant growth up until 2022. These online platforms proved to be a boon for upcoming filmmakers and artists, providing space for their low-budget, niche, and content-based productions.

However, recently, OTT has begun to embody the very idea it was meant to challenge. Platforms increasingly prioritize profits and shift towards mainstream, formulaic content, marginalizing ‘good content’.

According to a report by Ormax Media, OTT viewership growth dipped from 20% in 2022 to 13.5% in 2023. The surge in 2022 was bolstered by the pandemic as people sought entertainment at home, while the growth in 2023 was more organic. Now, stakeholders have expressed concerns as the future of the OTT landscape appears less promising.


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According to the FICCI EY Media and Entertainment Report, OTT expenditure surged by 52% in 2023, driven by a more than two-fold increase in sports rights value, which accounted for 51% of the ₹12,500 crore OTT content spending. While platforms allocated 24% of total OTT costs to acquiring film rights, they earmarked only a quarter for original content, despite minimal growth in viewing hours.

Several platforms are increasingly relegating entertainment to a secondary category, and the stagnant growth of subscription-video-on-demand platforms suggests a bleak future for new entertainment content.

Furthermore, research by Media Partner Asia projects a 5% decline in the online video contribution to film and television content in 2024. Ashish Pherwani of EY India noted that post-pandemic, streaming platforms “are following a clear strategy of acquiring either tentpole or extremely low-cost content, with major investments tied to theatrical performance.”

In recent months, streaming giants have halted the development of new content, instead favoring established cinema artists. Now, streaming platforms are renewing only the series that excelled during the pandemic for new seasons, or they are prioritizing big-budget, star-studded films to drive profits. Streaming platforms consider mid-budget or low-budget projects only after these projects have proven their success at the box office, with content no longer being the primary factor.

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The binge-watching culture, especially among the youth, has led streaming platforms to recycle plots and adopt formulaic content production, now bordering on saturation. While web series initially fostered an emerging talent pool for OTT, services are now gravitating towards established celebrities and filmmakers to attract viewership, believing celebrity status guarantees a project’s success to some extent, creating significant buzz upon release.

Conversely, censorship restrictions on OTT content have hindered the creative freedom that was once a prime advantage of streaming platforms.

Showrunner Sudip Sharma, known for series like “Paatal Lok” and “Kohrra,” reflected on these issues on Suchin Mehrotra’s podcast, expressing a bleak outlook for the Indian streaming landscape. He highlighted everything from platforms hesitating to commission new shows to budget cuts and shelving of projects, which are reshaping the online entertainment landscape.

The acclaimed showrunner also voiced concerns about the uncertain future of mid-budget projects like his own in the streaming industry.

Amid the ongoing challenges facing film and television content on streaming platforms, two questions arise: Has the OTT landscape already peaked and reached saturation? And where do niche films and artists go now that streaming services have shifted focus from substance to spectacle?