The past few years have seen OTT platforms mushrooming in dozens, and with a few more in the pipeline, it seems the invasion of Indian drawing rooms has truly begun. The streaming platforms have surely and certainly created a dent in the traditional viewing pattern of the average Indian. If Amazon Prime and ALT Balaji are offering their content for less than Rs 150 a month, it is nothing short of a revolution in the domain of entertainment.
But amidst the barrage of OTT platforms, it’s the quality of the content that remains the differentiating factor. Abhishek Srivastava lists the top five leading OTT platforms which have unleashed a change.
When it comes to content, Netflix remains the numero uno leader of the Indian market. It must be noted here that the streaming giant reached the shores of this country much before, but took its own sweet time to acclimatize itself to the Indian palate. When the initial research got over, they came up with their first offering in the form of Sacred Games.
The series, helmed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, proved to be a game-changer and created a grammar for other platforms. The success of Sacred Games was soon followed by the supernatural thriller Ghoul, which further cemented their reputation that when it comes to content, the word ‘compromise’ simply does not exist in the dictionary of the Netflix mandarins.
The gap between their launches clearly indicates that the streaming platform is here for the long haul. Their recent success story has been the gritty Delhi Crime, and their victory is reflective in the fact that the series, loosely based on the infamous Nirbhaya case, did not receive a single negative review across publications. With films like Love Per Square Foot and Once Again, their strategy is clear that riveting content is sacrosanct.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon India was the first to ride the crest of the OTT wave in the country when it announced that 15 top filmmakers of the country would be making content for the platform. The announcement was made more than two years ago in Dec 2016, when leading filmmakers of the country gathered under one platform at a five-star hotel.
The association included production houses like Excel Entertainment (Farhan Akhtar), Equinox Features (Ram Madhvani), Abundantia Entertainment (Vikram Malhotra), AIB, OML, Phantom Films (Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Vikas Bahl & Madhu Mantena), D2R films (DK & Raj Nidimoru), Raapchik Films (Raj Kumar Gupta), Pritish Nandy Communication (Pritish Nandy), and Fission Features (Asif Kapadia) among others, but barring Excel Entertainment, PNC, Abundantia and OML, the content of the other production houses is yet to see the light of day.
After the exit of Nitesh Kripalani, the big boss at Amazon Video, things went for a toss and it took a while for the streaming platform to get their house in order. With Inside Edge, they started their journey, and with Breathe, Mirzapur and the more recent Made in Heaven, they communicated to everyone that they are determined to make up for lost time.
Disney considers Hotstar India a jewel in their crown when it comes to their Indian operations. The merger of Fox with the biggest entertainment company of the world, ensured that Hotstar India would now be governed by Disney management. Though Hotstar India remains the oldest and the biggest in terms of subscribers, somehow it was sports more than the original programming which drove the platform.
It was primarily foreign content acquired from HBO, Disney, Hulu and Showtime which ensured that viewers had their quota of entertainment. Local content was just not on their radar. But the strides Netflix and Amazon have made in the past few months have forced Hotstar to change their strategy.
The recent launch of Hotstar Specials is an indicator of the heat they have been feeling because of the onslaught of desi content by videshi giants. Roar of the Lion (helmed by Kabir Khan) and Criminal Justice (Tigmanshu Dhulia as the show runner) prove that they too are ready for the competition. Up next will be Shekhar Kapur’s special for the platform.
It’s been a while for Eros Now, since they started offering content through their platform, but their lackluster content has not really helped them in getting to the next level. Smoke, Metro Park and Flip have been their big ticket, but none of them could manage an audience.
Even the presence of seasoned actors like Jim Sarbh, Kalki Koechlin, Neil Bhoopalam and Gulshan Devaiah could not save the below par script of Smoke. The streaming platform has an uphill task ahead of them with three of the major players – Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar upping the ante.
ALT Balaji it seems, is in the volume game. When the platform launched Bose and The Test Case, the message was loud and clear – good content remains their only prerogative. But with the passage of time, quality somehow has taken a backseat for the streaming platform, and instead, volume seems to have become their mantra.
When offerings like Haq Se, Home, and Class of 2017 came, the platform then resorted to the cheap gimmick of offering sleaze to their viewers, and thus came series like Gandi Baat, XXX, Dev DD and Ragini MMS Returns. Though none of their offerings could repeat the magic of Bose, the platform is still on the lookout for their next tent pole.