Anirban Roy Choudhury

Films releasing directly on OTT are not "eating into" television viewership says ZEE's Ruchir Tiwari

Zee Cinema informed that despite an OTT release, the World Television Premiere of Coolie No.1 on Zee Cinema has garnered viewership of over 1.03 crore impressions

The film distribution business has changed. It was already changing after video-on-demand platforms with deeper pockets rolled out in India. But the pandemic fuelled it further. Big budget films that would first release in cinema halls and then move to television and eventually OTT has now shifted gears. The films are releasing on OTT first and then elsewhere.

Five years back, there was no chance that a David Dhawan directed movie where Varun Dhawan plays the lead would first release on digital video streaming platforms. In 2020, Coolie No. 1 was released on Amazon Prime Video. This direct to OTT releases cast a shadow of doubt on the 'World Television Premieres' - the most coveted property for movie channels.

Digital will eat into TV in India is a popular belief that Ruchir Tiwari, cluster head- Hindi movie channels, ZEEL says the data contradicts. "World Television Premiere of Coolie No.1 on Zee Cinema has garnered viewership of over 1.03 crore impressions, as per BARC data for Week 17, all India 2+ audiences," stated Zee Cinema in its media statement. It added, "The movie premiere also captivated the young target audience with Mumbai, Delhi and Maharashtra being the top markets."

"Video consumption is happening on TV and Digital and not on TV or digital," says Tiwari. "Both the mediums cater to different sets of audiences. Most of the content on OTT is for niche audiences while the content on the TV has universal appeal, that does well even in urban pockets. The only differentiator is the price point at which the viewers are getting entertainment. The content on TV being offered at affordable prices is bound to grab more eyeballs, this is where TV has the edge over OTT.  At the end of the day, it is an ecosystem that will have overlaps, but they will complement each other and give overall growth." he adds.

SVOD (Subscription driven Video On Demand) provides individual experience, mostly showcasing niche content opines Tiwari. He asserts, "TV on the other hand provides a co-viewing experience that has been a core aspect of our lives as we grew up. Also, there is a certain nostalgia and excitement attached to watching movies on TV with your family and loved ones. The only overlap of TV with SVOD is that people want to be entertained."

Movies traditionally were released in theatres after massive promotions. After it attained popularity, it went to air on satellite television. That took care of the marketing. Without the theatrical releases, is it becoming very difficult for the television channels to market the premiere? "Whether it is in theatres or on TV, movie promotions have anyway evolved over the last few years," responds Tiwari.

"Now movie marketing is more about engaging the viewers rather than just informing them. The marketing avenues for this engagement, be it social platforms or the media, are quite similar for theatre or TV premieres. Today, the marketing strategies adopted for TV premieres are as vast as theatrical premieres. Many times, the ratings for these movie premieres are on the same levels or even better, than theatre premieres," he concludes.

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