OTT and Future of Cinema – Madhu Mantena

Madhu Mantena

Over the past few months, as many movies both small and big made their way to the OTT platforms, there has been a rift as to what is the future of the cinema and what impact will OTT makes on the industry. The emergence and growing popularity of OTT no doubt have transformed the advertising landscape.

The ongoing covid 19 pandemics has not only affected our lives but also the industries and the entertainment industry was not spared. With most of the cinema operations have been brought to a halt and lockdown measures imposed, OTT seems to be the only way out. Affordable, convenient, and easily accessible on the go, thanks to the availability of an internet connection and 4G network. Social distancing is the norm, working from home is the new normal, consumers want to distress, and escape the day’s pressures to the entertainment world only by connecting to their favorite OTT platform. Does it mean OTT is taking over? What does the future hold for the cinema? Here we ask expert, Madhu Mantena, a successful film producer and media entrepreneur for an inside opinion on where OTT and cinema lies.

The rise of OTT

Over-the-top media services(OTT) are not new but its importance is further reinforced with the covid 19 crisis. Cinemas and the film industry seems to be the hardest hit of the pandemic due to its closures and need to stay indoors to curb the spread of the virus. OTT takes over as the new normal. With the projects on hold and cinemas shutter down, rather than incurring losses by shelving the movies till everything returns to normalcy, the best financial bet is to stream on OTT platforms across the country.

An over-the-top (OTT) media service is the practice of streaming media content directly to views over the internet. Popular OTT players in India include  Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, Hotstar Disney, Voot, and MXPlayer. OTT continues to grow in popularity and Research have shown that many Asia households are using 2 to 3 OTT platforms to stream their favorite international and local content.  Netflix is said to have over two million subscribers, Hotstaf, claims eight million, while Amazon Prime boasts of 10 million. Binge-watch becomes the new rave and OTT platform as well as looking for ways to bring engaging content to consumers’ doorsteps.

OTT has also posed a huge opportunity for small budgets who were denied theatre exhibitions by releasing movies on OTT and garnering huge audiences across the globe while hitting a lot of money.

What does the future hold for OTT and cinema?

OTT is already disrupting the media industry and is here to stay even after the lockdown. Savvy producers and key investors will need to embrace the new normal and integrate the right technology.

However, one thing is sure, there is nothing to be compared with the magic of cinemas. MadhuMantena says many who cannot wait to step out of the four corners of their home will find their way to cinemas to enjoy luxe experiences and an opportunity to socialize. Although streaming has made the experience cheap and convenient, cinemas still remain an escape route for next-gen from daily life pressures.”

“The point is while we stream movies online during weekdays, we still want to go out, socialize and enjoy some thrilling, suspense-packed movies in the weekend,” he adds.

“The coexistence of both OTT and cinema is something to look forward to in the future. OTT platform creates enough room for experimentation in regards to new genres, diverse content, and personalization of content which makes the whole experience rewarding.  The experience we get in cinema as well is second to none. For centuries, we love the ambiance. We love sitting on comfy seats,  in a darkened auditorium, before a dazzling shiny screen. We love the perfect calibration of audio and the clear 3D. We love collective viewing, not just with friends and families but even people unknown. There is just something about laughing, cheering, screaming, or even crying together which makes Cinema holds a special place in the audience’s mind. However, it is safe to say that consumers today are exposed to a wide array of options and it is up to industry players to adapt to the changes.”MadhuMantena concludes.

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