“No traditional Friday box office opening pressure and no chest-thumping about gross worldwide collections, making the lifespan of films infinite.” In an exclusive discussion with BOC, Mr. Aamod Gupte, Senior Corporate Counsel with over 30 years of experience in media, entertainment and digital space put light on everything going in, by, and for the OTT.
He acknowledged how filmmakers can experiment with off-beat stories, younger casts and different perspectives. Also, the availability of content in diverse Indian languages and the opportunity to present it to the global audience, since it is not only dubbed but also sub-titled across various international languages. The viewing is easily categorised by useful searchable index.
It was a relief to hear him conclude that TV will not extinct. He said, “Today, it’s a case of more the merrier. The consumer is not complaining, and the content creators are happy to oblige. Hence, nobody is going anywhere. Just as the radio industry survived the onslaught of the glamorous audio-visual broadcast business, traditional broadcast, as well as the theatrical business, will co-exist with the OTT, each serving specific consumer needs.”
As Aamod has been deeply involved in business verticals of television Broadcasting, OTT, Telecom, FM Radio, Music Industry and much more, we grabbed the opportunity to take his opinion on the business side of the current OTT scenarios. Here’s what he said to clear the image, “Ambanis who already control the OTT service ‘Voot’ are expanding their territory while Adani is another big name entering the game with a serious and long term intent. Such fresh investments in OTT by these leading businessmen would certainly give a boost to the entire production, marketing and distribution ecosystem in India, especially the indie producers and local regional content and talent.
While these are all just players, the consumer is the real king and is truly spoilt with choices.
OTT has several revenue models such as ad-supported, subscription-based as well as freemium models. While the broadcast media largely survives on advertisements, Gen Z is increasingly open to paying for a subscription to OTT services to binge-watch their favourite shows.
The advertising sector that had de-growth in 2020 caused by the pandemic, is expected to reach Rs.70,000 Crore by 2022 according to the Dentsu Digital Report 2021. This makes it attractive to tap into the ad-supported or freemium models and ride the popularity of OTT penetration.”
When asked why the Government is keen on regulating the platforms more strictly and if that is the right course of action? Aamod, who himself was the founder team member of IBF and worked on the broadcast self regulation code, is a core member of the digital committee of IAMAI and was deeply involved in the preparation of self regulation code for OTT platforms for curated content, as well as policy discussions with the Government, told us that OTT platforms became sitting ducks for taking potshots, owing perhaps to certain edgy content, or content deemed unsuitable for a section of the audience. It caused the Government to intervene and look into various complaints and set up rules and guidelines for redressal of consumer complaints. Concerning various objections as regards content on OTT platforms, such as obscenity, defamation, hurting religious sentiments etc., the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) had taken cognizance and notified the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, on February 25, 2021.
The viewer can “pull” the content “on-demand” and they are sufficiently guided and informed well in advance about the nature of the content they are about to watch. Age-appropriate classification, disclaimers and warnings for foul language, scenes involving drugs, smoking, alcohol, sex, nudity or violence, such warning are always displayed before the commencement of the content. Then there are parental locks and age-gating. Moreover, full-length films are also certified by CBFC.
Hence, viewers are always well informed to make a well-informed decision. Choosing the right content for yourself is a more pragmatic approach than complaining about the content and moving to courts to “ban” such content.