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Will OTT and Theatres be rivals?

If there’s one good thing that has come of this pandemic, it’s the availability of good content from the comfort of your homes. Remember when you had to go to the theatre to catch hold of that new action film, or a film starring your favorite actor?

Not that you were complaining, but isn’t it so much better, now that you can watch the same movies lying on your couch, with a bowl of ACT II popcorn, that’s much cheaper than the overpriced bucket you buy in the theatres?

Since the start of the Covid pandemic, we’ve seen so many awaited big launches premiere on OTT platforms. Reason? The theatres were shut and the audiences were waiting. Rather than lose out on the created buzz, filmmakers decided to go ahead and release their content on OTT platforms. So does this mean that OTT is going to now compete with theatres and the two will end up becoming rivals?

Access To More Varied Content Through OTT

Why would you go to a theatre? To watch a full-length feature film right? With the rise in the adoption of OTT platforms, not only movies but also documentaries and series are seeing big names from the industry, who were earlier limited to just doing films.

The larger than life persona of actors is changing and newer faces are being given more opportunities on OTT. This has given access to more content, and of varied genres, and with a much larger talent pool than what you were seeing in theatres.

Content is king, be it a theatre or an OTT platform. Audiences will choose to go where they find meaningful and entertaining content. And with OTT increasingly providing access to the same, will people still go out and spend ridiculous amounts of money for a theatrical experience?

The Difference In The Experiences of A Theatre And OTT

A visit to the theatre is no longer restricted to just watching a movie. It has become an outing. There are so many food and beverage options available inside multiplexes, that you end up enjoying an entire meal along with watching a film.

Some theatres have started providing unique experiences to indulge the customers, like recliner seats, 3D screens, and delivery-on-seat, experiences that are certainly not available while viewing content on OTT platforms.

The Experience Contrast Theatres vs OTT

If these experiences are what people are looking for, OTT platforms will never be able to compete with theatres. But with everything so overpriced at these theatres, if the content is the priority, OTT may well be on the way to giving the cinemas a run for their money.

With more good content available from the comfort of your homes, a lot of movie-goers now prefer sitting on their couch and sipping from a bottle of coke available at MRP, rather than paying a bomb for the same beverage in a cup at a theatre.

The Rise Of Regional Content On OTT

According to an article by Entrepreneur, around 40% of the content consumed on Hotstar belongs to regional languages like Tamil, Telugu, and Bengali. Imagine that you live in a state like Maharashtra. While you will have access to Marathi films in theatres, you will have to rely on OTT platforms to watch content in other regional languages. The same is the case in all other states.

Widening the Reach via Regional OTT Content

A report by Business-standard states that 63% of the OTT viewers are from non-metros, and they prefer watching content in multiple languages, even the ones they don’t know. So much so, that OTT platforms are considering dubbing foreign shows in regional languages to widen their reach.

Original Content On OTT

Apart from the big screen releases shifting their focus to releasing on OTT platforms, platforms like Hotstar, Netflix, Prime, Zee 5, etc are increasingly producing original content, that is exclusively available only on their platforms. Even if theatres can outdo the OTT players in terms of movies, they will not be able to showcase the original content from OTT players.

Incentive For Film Makers To Release On OTT

Filmmakers have always produced movies with the intention of releasing on the big screens in theatres. They end up spending millions producing the movie, and then a few more millions promoting it.

What is the main reason for movie promotions? They want you to go to the theatres and watch it, giving them revenues. But what if they released on OTT instead of on the silver screen?

Users could watch whichever movie they desired at their own will and producers would not have to shell out insane amounts on promotions. Their ROI would be much better showcasing on an OTT platform, as opposed to a theatrical release if the movie ends up not being as big a hit as anticipated.

True, as a movie producer, your dream would always be to see your content being appreciated in a theatre, but OTTs have given opportunities and hope to smaller players as well, for whom making a movie and getting it to the audiences was once a distant dream.

Lack Of Outing Options For Families

Where do you normally prefer to go out for family outings? A meal, a movie, a sports match, maybe a concert? People are holed up at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. But as things start to open, families will want to take their anxious kids out again for a fun evening.

Middle-class families are really concerned about the costs associated with an outing. So many options that were previously easily doable have now become so expensive that one evening away from home could end up burning a huge hole in the pocket.

Let’s look at the average costs associated with an outing for a family:

average cost of family going out

Theatres still remain one of the cheapest options for people looking to entertain their families and spend a fun-filled day outside. If not the theatre, where would these families go?

In Conclusion

When televisions and DVD players were launched, people had anticipated the theatre business to go kaput. But what happened? Multiplexes popped up and watching movies became an experience.

With constantly evolving features that keep customers interested, theatres have managed to draw crowds. Now, with the rise in OTT viewership, if the theatres feel threatened, they will not sit quietly and let their users slip away. They will definitely come up with new innovations to keep the typical movie-goer interested.

What’s to say that OTT and the silver screen cannot coexist? One doesn’t have to be the substitute for another. Users will always have the option to choose the platform where they would want to consume their content. And not everyone would want to give up on the experience of going to the cinema and making a fun day out of it.