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  • Ravi Sharma

Cinemas and OTT – Arranged Marriage or Love Marriage?

Hybrid model is definitely the future for Cinema and OTT
Hybrid model is definitely the future for Cinema and OTT

The heading may sound like family debate, but the context of OTT is far more complicated in this case. Of late, Cinema’s have been facing audience crunch. Some of that may be linked to ongoing political debates, but the love for Cinema is slowly fading away. Gone are the days when a movie launch would attract large number of people and Cinema’s continued screening for weeks.

One of the key reasons is obviously the Covid pandemic which lead to people relying on their small (or big) screens. Producers also decided to not wait until pandemic is over, and launched their movies directly on OTT platforms. Notable examples are Laxmii and Coolie No 1.

In some cases, the producers are able to get handsome amount of money which is usually linked to star cast and story line. But in many cases where the OTT platforms are apprehensive, they are not willing to pay huge amount of money.

Now coming back to the main topic. It is inevitable that we will see a hybrid model of Cinema’s coming together with OTT platforms but the questions is whether it will be natural love/path or more of an arrangement to move along. With its current structure it is nearly impossible for Cinema’s to survive due to economics of the business. Cinema’s work on revenue share model with content houses and therefore if the footfall is less, then the revenues are not sustainable. Even pop-corns can only help to an extent (pun intended).

While the content houses have taken up the direct to OTT approach but the problem is it leaves them and OTT platform for lot of speculation. Especially for OTT platform, there is no direct way to calculate the impact, therefore abrupt pricing can kill their busines too in long term. Netflix has been spending exorbitant money on buying content and it is definitely not working as they are losing subscribers rather quickly.

Therefore, one possibility is for a hybrid model. Let’s say that movie is released in Cinema’s and both Cinema goers and OTT subscribers will get an option to watch it anywhere, maybe after a week of Cinema launch. OTT platforms can charge a minimal subscription fee and share revenue with content houses. This can remove some of the portion of speculation. Also, there is possibility of Cinema’s and OTT providing add on content on OTT platforms like trivia, games and maybe even related reels. This can provide a more engagement linked model and a winning combination for all stakeholders.

But the larger question is, whether Cinema owners and OTT providers will join hands together or will they be forced by the content houses to come together and move along. Irrespective of the case, a hybrid model is definitely the future for Cinema and OTT.

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