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OTT killed the TV Star

$52 billion Disney deal for 21st century & Star – fox may soon eat the mouse!

Mumbai has been splattered with hoardings of Will Smith’s Bright. Sorry not Will Smith’s Netflix’s Bright. Catch line is “movie premiering on the streets”. It’s barely a coincidence that Netflix is badgering the world with a mega movie ‘launched’ without a movie screen just when Rupert Murdoch, media industry’s original Jedi decided it’s no more a fair fight and threw the towel. The 52 billion dollar sale of the most envious brand or rather brands to Disney, as we were going to press, made me realise, just as many decades ago when ‘Radio killed the TV Star’ and ‘TV killed the Movie Star’ OTT killed the TV Star & Movie Star’. Murdoch the Master himself realised this and as a winner on all the turfs, whether 21st Century Fox, or Star TV, sold to Disney in winner takes all deal, without any cash component. Murdoch realised he couldn’t fight Netflix and Amazon, and clever genius as he is has sold at the right time for a fabulous valuation before there is blood on the TV floor and blood at the Movie Premier.

BVP in honour of the times is happy to start OTT Blues, an ironic column, that will chart out the challenges for OTT, advantages, successes and failure. All surveys indicate a growth of 40% in video production fuelled by OTT distribution and revenue streams. Let me clarify here OTT video production is across platforms from web-series to ‘tv’ series to ‘movie’ series as well live streaming of content beyond sports. Thus this demand for video production gear is as much for high-end work flow of ‘cinema’ quality to DSLR video.

Meanwhile the buzz is that Amazon budget for video production is $4.5 billion. Please note the words “video production” is used. Therein is the key! It’s not anymore ‘movie’ or ‘television’ software, short movie, or ‘documentary’ – it’s all video production. This is exactly why we titled this magazine Broadcast Video Producer!

OTT action in India is happening. For original programming we have Balaji Alt, AIB, Culture machine, and others. Major television programmers have their app based aggregation. Star networks Hotstar is leading the pack. Eros made a serious foray, but lost steam. Point is OTT is real and rocking.

Web series on You Tube channels will definitely have the occasional burst and trending content and there will be aggregators too like Voot etc, but the level required for smashing OTT content is stupendous. By level I mean financial, and star value and good video production, and I can see OTT of Indian contents floating on the sidelines in Netflix and Amazon Prime. Indian content whether Bollywood or television is always as a rule mediocre. No surprise that Anupam Kher admitted when Newton wasn’t admitted even in the Oscar race, that global content is challenging and must surely have been better. But Indian has a great advantage in OTT that most countries don’t have and that is our dangerous News channels. In fact OTT TRPs will show that max use is to catch news.

Is OTT content any different or special or is it just the broadband delivery on smartphones and tablets and display screens which are all internet ready? Given that Netflix and Amazon Prime focus on mainstream entertainment it would seem going OTT with skewed stories just isn’t what OTT is all about. Web series isn’t a new animal. Probably shorter timeline.

Another fallacy about OTT is probably that content must be urban. This column will evaluate audience sentiments in reporting what is working and what hasn’t.

Broadcast shows globally are focused on the OTT wave as it engulfs traditional television broadcast. BVP will focus on Technology delivering OTT.

Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, Apple and the likes are fuelling delivery as much as smart TVs, smartphones and the like.

While most of the discussions are focused on all positive aspects of this new wave of change in technology effect on production formats and audiences, there is the other side to the coin too. Pure OTT content is seen on a trending wave like social media. Revenues are either high for very short period or slow for long-term, both revenue models still cannot amortize high production cost. Producers fail to understand that longevity would result in loss of value of content so investment in such high production value content is risky. However in the race to grab eyeballs budgets are escalating.

The rapid growth has resulted in weak formation of the base for the revenue models in this industry which might pose threat of economic crises to the industry in future. Apart from budgeting blues, there are issues concerning branding aspects as deluge of new content gets little attention.

Anil Chopra with inputs from Mrinmai Shinde