The Big OTT Growth Story: Chapter 2

20 Sep,2019


This is the second in a series of columns by Shailesh Kapoor on the OTT Growth Story in India. Click here for Chapter 1.


By Shailesh Kapoor


It’s raining OTT show launches. Over the last few weeks, about two-three major and another five-six minor OTT shows have been launching every week. At this rate, the number of OTT shows that launch in 2019 will be higher than the Hindi GEC shows launched over a five-year period (2015-19). And you may not be wrong in believing that this is just the start, and things can only get more exciting from here.

While the launch rate has accelerated significantly in 2019, it has been accompanied by a parallel improvement in the quality of content too. Till last year, among the many OTT shows that launched, only a couple would pass muster on quality. Most of the shows that won audience appreciation were from the TVF stable. ‘Quantity over quality’ seemed to be the OTT mantra.

While that mantra continues to hold true for the second line of OTT players in 2019, there has been a significant jump in the quality of the top shows in 2019. If we look at the Ormax Advocacy Score (a measure out of 100 on how well-appreciated a show was among the audience who watched it), 2019 has some strong candidates in the reckoning.

November 2018’s launch Mirzapur (Amazon Prime Video) continued to get audience appreciation early this year. Then came the deliciously compelling Delhi Crime (Netflix), which continues to grow its audience base till date, six months since it launched in March.

The big success of the year, however, is a somewhat low-profile show Kota Factory (TVF). Presented in Black & White, this funny and insightful series on the student life in the education hub Kota has received widespread acclaim from young audiences, become the third-most liked Indian OTT show till date on the Ormax Advocacy scale, after Sacred Games (Season 1) and TVF Pitchers.

Another potential top-end show dropped last night: Amazon Prime Video’s The Family Man. The unusually-textured spy thriller cum family drama stands apart from the dark and gritty world that shows like Sacred Games and Mirzapur espouse.

However, all good things come with a word of caution. Almost 80% of OTT shows that have launched still have an Advocacy Score below 50, symptomatic of active audience dislike, even rejection. Many of these have been actively promoted by the respective platforms, indicating that the platform sensed good potential in them. So, even though the top-end has become stronger, the success rate may still be a mere 15-20%, or even lesser. Quantity may still be prevailing over quality after all.

The Top 10 Hindi films of 2019 based on audience advocacy (word-of-mouth) average at a staggering Advocacy Score of 73. The equivalent number for the OTT category in 2019 is only 60, which is only a notch higher than the Hindi GEC category average of the year. And the Hindi GEC category has not exactly been in the pink of its health in recent times.

A long tail of flop shows will continue to be churned out in a category where everyone wants a share of the pie. 2019 has been good so far in providing a strong top layer of quality content. This layer now needs to expand from three to four shows to 10-15 shows a year. And 2020 may just be the year to achieve that.



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