Big Release for Small Films on OTT platforms in India

Filmmakers managed to find a way through OTT platforms in India to reach the audiences locked down in their homes in 2020. These platforms proved to be the biggest support for the entertainment industry and everyone realized their relevance appreciably. That is why, we saw much-awaited movies like Gulabo Sitabo, Coolie No 1, and a few others making their maiden appearances on these platforms.

The best part about the OTT platforms is that they put content quality at the highest pedestal of importance. So, even the small budget films have a bigger chance on these platforms.

OTT Platforms in India – How These Magnify a Film’s Release

Recently, Coolie No. 1, an Indian comedy movie, garnered the status of being among the most viewed movies on Amazon Prime right on the day of release. This shows that OTT platforms in India can create the same furor as observed at the time of theatrical releases of movies.

OTT platforms are doing well to the movies that promise to offer family entertainment. The section called ‘Originals’ on these platforms has seen phenomenal entries like ‘Scam 92’ (on Sony Liv), Breathe (Amazon Prime), whose success reflected the audiences’ taste. Even when made on a small budget, the content with a relatable feel and fabric can captivate the audience and create history.

This scale of reach and riveting appeal of ott platform in India have offered the right platform to the small films with a limited budget for promotions. By just having a trailer and a place among ‘coming soon’ on OTT, and with TV media buying, the promoters can move the audience to OTT releases.

OTT Platforms Quickly Becoming the People’s Choice

According to Brand Equity, as high as 55% of Indians have said ‘yes’ to OTT platforms. Even those who could not agree at this point are quite likely to change their opinion, the experts opine. The industry experts propose that low-cost entertainment, reaching right at the living rooms and loaded with quality content, will not be resistible for long for non-users of OTT platforms.

Small Budget Movies Able to Strike Big Deals with OTT Players

OTT platforms offer two types of business deals. In the first type, the cost involves taking ownership of the movie’s IP and rope in a production house to deliver content. This works comfortably well for the small budget movie makers who witness a cut of about 15-20% in the production cost. The second deal type is where the rights of the movie produced under a banner are sold to the OTT.

Thus, those players who do not have a much-pronounced presence in terms of production capacity, promotions, and reach can still find a solution by choosing the feasible deal option.

A few more important statistics related to big and small budget web series/movies and their performance are outlined here:

  • Red Chillies’ Bard of Blood at Netflix cost about 50 crores, while Mirzapur 1’s production cost was just  1-2 crores per episode. Still, performance-wise, the latter did much better and prompted the makers to come with another season. So, only having a prestigious name as backing has not remained the sole criterion for a movie’s or web series’ success.
  • Given the fact that the non-Hindi audience is spread throughout the world, OTT has offered regional cinemas an excellent medium to entertain people overseas. The OTT platform, Hoichoi, reportedly scored approx. 12.5 – 13 million subscriptions in September 2020, and the audience in Bangladesh and other areas thronged by Bangla movie lovers contributed to its sudden rise in revenue. Thus, better reach has made regional cinema a strong competition for Bollywood at OTT.

OTT is Helping Regional Cinema to Grow Too

Regional cinema’s struggle for the multiplex screens is not unknown to anybody. However, the OTT platforms have given it its due by allocating them in the ‘Movies in other languages’ section. Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, and the South Indian cinema have been able to score a sizable audience because of the OTT platforms’ content-centric policies.

R Madhavan’s Breathe and Jyotika’s Courtroom Drama, Ponmagal Vandhal’s, success has pointed at the possibilities that the OTT platform has created for the regional cinema. Indian cinema lovers now need not depend only on Hindi or Bollywood film.

The OTT platforms gave a silver lining to the regional cinema makers when actor-co-producer Suriya, decided to release Ponmagal Vandhal on the OTT due to setbacks caused by Covid-induced shutdowns of theaters in April 2020. Its success showed to the cinema makers a path worth following. 

Regional cinema, moreso, small budget films have managed to garner a fair audience for their content. Platforms such as PhunFlix make it all the more possible to stream video content from upcoming directors who create shows as well as movies on a tight budget.

Similar websites are sure to benefit the moviemakers who have little hope of getting theatrical releases of their completed movies anytime sooner.

Shift to Big Budget Movies, Not a trend As of Now at OTT

Though there is no denying that star power will still be the winner in the competition, the correct timing can help small budget movies have their audience on the OTT. Since all movies are now reaching the audience at almost the same price (the subscription money), the content has understandably taken over the glamor.

Moviemakers working with unknown faces have scored success on the OTT purely because of content quality. And encouraging numbers have led the people in the industry with more money to fiddle with the idea of having an additional OTT vertical in their business structure.

To top it all, ease of sharing and spreading the word on social media have given the movies, having a limited promotion budget, an opportunity to create a more profound ripple effect. This also resulted in the cost going down and reach becoming widespread. Thus, a majority of releases have become bigger than ever, irrespective of the quantum of money involved.

Non-smart TV User Audience Also Covered

OTT platforms report a phenomenal viewer base to the tunes of 100-250 million worldwide. And, there is no sign of slowing down either. With the introduction of products like Amazon Fire TV, Roku that also makes OTT available to non-smart TV users, the number is likely to shoot higher in coming times. Since the conditions outdoors and ease of access offered by these platforms collectively create favorable conditions, filmmakers can expect OTT platforms to give them the audience they need to survive and sustain.

Support of Big names Now Available

OTT has been on the radar of production biggies for a long time now. Most of the big names have already started working towards this new story-telling format. For example,

  • Dharma Productions has launched its OTT handle, Dharmatic to produce content aimed solely at digital streaming medium
  • Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment is producing shows like Inside Edge, and Mirzapur for Amazon Prime
  • Down South, the producer JSK Sathish kumar is coming up with their own OTT platform JSK Prime Media.

In an attempt to gain traction in this new space, the production biggies will not hesitate from entering into a creative partnership with high-quality content creators. So, this talent pool that found it difficult to get a launchpad earlier will now find buyers easily and at feasible terms.

To Sum Up,

The numbers at OTT platforms in India have undoubtedly made the small films’ release magnanimous. There is more promise in store for the good content creators. Though star value will continue to be the prime promoter of any project, the content only will help retain the loyal audience.

Further, coming up with the OTT platforms by the production biggies is also proving to be advantageous for small filmmakers who found it difficult to raise funds earlier. With no sign of theaters working at full capacity in the near future, the OTT platforms have become the only platform where numbers can be expected to be phenomenally high.


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