What’s the measure of success on the subject of films, particularly Tamil cinema?
There are a number of — hashtags on Twitter that deify display idols and heap glory on their movies, constructive evaluations by critics, sold-out theatres on the opening day and week, and the next commerce that this generates. Return a number of years and this record may also embrace 90-feet-tall cutouts that followers would then douse in a number of gallons of milk.
Gone are these days. Because of COVID-19, the grapevine in Tamil cinema is that movie producers, even those that bankrolled the big-budget initiatives that includes stars that didn’t make it to the theatres earlier than lockdown, have began to weigh up their choices in favour of OTT platforms.
A direct-to-digital launch, because it stands, is the one possible possibility, as Chennai continues to grapple with a pandemic that reveals no indicators of slowing down.
There, nevertheless, is an issue. For a era that grew up debating the success metrics of a film put up its launch, how does one gauge whether or not or not a movie amped up the star’s market potential with out the backing of numbers to corroborate?
Consumer information is the reply, however OTT gamers like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar and Zee5, amongst others, should not identified to voluntarily disclose this info.
Distinguished movie distributor-producer, KE Gnanavel Raja of Studio Inexperienced manufacturing firm, makes use of a comparability to elucidate his dilemma. “Like TRPs for TV channels, there ought to be a yardstick for OTT platforms. They don’t want to disclose and it is okay with producers now because we need the money. In the long run, we will have to figure out something,” he says.
The reality in numbers
Take the occasion of Ponmagal Vandhal, the Jyotika-starrer that had its digital première on Amazon Prime Video final month.
All director JJ Fredrick is prepared to state is that he was advised “the Amazon representatives are happy with the response” his movie generated.
The reluctance to half with person information lies in the truth that it helps drive varied monetisation fashions for OTT platforms. In addition to it’s “confidential business information”, as Rahul Maroli, Senior Vice President and Head SVOD, Zee5 India, places it. “Since this business is evolving, we restrict the data to ourselves and not make it available for our competitors to use,” he says.
The streaming providers, nevertheless, conduct intensive inner analysis on their customers. A supply within the video-on-demand business, who didn’t want to be named, explains that firms examine information like time spent watching a video, the place a person paused/exited, whether or not an episode was totally seen and what core plot in a movie or net sequence drove a person to utterly view the content material, and so on.
These and extra are additionally cut up into demography classes which assist an OTT platform to check what style a viewer likes to look at. “It helps us create a preference arc for each user and determine what type of content to buy or commission,” the supply provides.
This information, in keeping with Rahul, additionally helps them perceive behaviour of each present and future subscribers. “OTTs operate on the S-O-R [business] model. Also, our revenue model is solely dependent on subscription,”
Dependence on subscription for income is what’s driving OTT gamers to undertake a unique strategy to the Indian market. “Films are the major acquisition drivers,” says Rahul, of what makes the common Indian person join an OTT subscription.
And with theatres successfully out of enterprise for some time, this can be the time for digital gamers to capitalise in the marketplace vacuum. Says producer Sameer Bharat Ram, “OTTs are choosy. Their selection process [for films] is quite stringent. For example, OTT platforms also associated with a television brand might hesitate before acquiring a film like Uriyadi, which features violent content.”
That casts gentle on the significance of a income share mannequin, a key idea in theatrical enterprise, in OTT offers.
Sameer provides that almost all OTT platforms, aside from Amazon Prime Video, don’t work on a income share mannequin. As an alternative, they make outright purchases which nets the producer a well-defined return on his funding.
“But it works both ways. If the film I release tanks at the box office, then I may not even end up getting the price I expected when I sell the satellite and OTT rights,” Sameer says.
Outright purchases in at this time’s market (with out theatres) additionally imply producers are anticipated to take a “loss in their profits”, as producer J Satish Kumar of JSK Movie Company places it, however a direct-to-digital launch saves them the price of publicity.
“I don’t have to spend on print or publicity. OTTs take care of it, and their app takes my content to higher and middle-income groups directly,” says Gnanavel Raja, who factors out that digital platforms rising as “an alternative to piracy” is encouraging. “OTTs are not an alternative to theatres. But when the user finds quality content on a legal platform, then, in time, they won’t search for it online,” he provides.
PPV vs OTT
- J Satish Kumar sees a well-recognized sample within the new regular that COVID-19 has helped create. Monopoly over content material created by a single participant rising past dimension is one thing he’s cautious about. “It was the same when Sun TV was making their initial stride in the market. They chased every producer for rights to their films. After a point of time, it became tough for producers to even get appointments with their executives,” he says. As a counter, he means that the pay-per-view (PPV) mannequin, prevalent within the West, be tried right here. “There are more cable TV subscribers and this model helps us deliver content straight to people’s homes. This can be regulated and taxed as well by the government. The content can also be shared with DTH services, satellite TV and OTT platforms,” he provides.
If the variety of new subscriptions is taken into account one of many barometers of success, then, in keeping with the supply, Ponmagal Vandhal gave Amazon Prime Video an above common return on its funding.
And usually, new customers who join a specific content material have a tendency to remain. “40-60% conversion rate from trial to paid subscription happens in regional markets,” the supply provides.
Whether or not this prompts extra producers like Xavier Britto and Lalit Kumar (who bankrolled Vijay’s Grasp) to take their content material in the direction of OTT stays to be seen. Such movies command a premium payment for an outright buy and a income share mannequin would rely upon views — a danger for the producer except OTTs come clear with their information.
As Satish Kumar places it, “The main aim for a producer now is to recover whatever they have invested and a little more because nothing exists today. There are no satellite TV rights, no overseas [market], no Telugu market, no other language dubbing rights. There is only OTT.”