Movie Theaters or Cinema Halls or Multiplexes as we all currently know them have become one of the important reasons to contribute towards the GDP or the countries progress. Yes. Read that again. Its purely a business no doubt, but something related to us and our emotions. Movie theaters vs OTT is slowly going to fall on our pockets. For most of us or a lot us, weekends mean movies with that special one or family and friends. You would rarely go out alone to watch a flick. Watching a movie buys your family happiness for the next three hours so you do not mind spending. People even turn into small time reviewers posting on social media so their friends know they saw it already and hence are cool for sharing why their friends need to watch it or not watch it and sometimes its even more fun to give away the spoilers.
Taking a step back, the most important years that began raising the standard of living in India were the 90s. The era where it all happened, the kids grew with all phones to cell phones from typewriter to computers – wait a minute. There is so much to talk about the 90’s i can write a separate one on it. Do read it if you loved 90s or if you’re a 90s kid. The point being people started to make more money, businesses were invited and allowed to explore and the weekends started to make sense. That’s almost also when the Sunday weekend for most of the offices and companies became Saturdays and Sundays. Now there were 2 days to celebrate with your family and do anything else you wanted. The movies that would happen once a month could now happen twice a month or even more than that. The 2000s made sure we were already living this. We loved the location of our single screen and even the small time experience they provided. But like the best proven science, only change is constant and it had to be.
Investing money pulls in more money, the big companies learnt this in no time and started creating basically experiences that never existed before. The locations that now lured the crowd was the new and shiny multiplexes that were built inside another new and shiny shopping mall where the flush worked automatically after peeing! Lets call this part as Job 4:8, we’ll refer to this later. The single screen were still in the business but obviously not as before. The parks were dead as the weekends we spoke about were now only about those malls and its multiplexes. The reason i referred to standard of living in India earlier was this. People could now afford a movie ticket that was twice as much as they were buying at single screens. The food inside was even more expensive but it was all worth the stress they were putting in at work. The Multiplexes were not only making profits but also contributing to the countries taxes. This also caught the eyes of the movie producers – there was more room now to create and explore. Movies started making between 100 and 400 crores as compared to 40-50 Crs with Single Screens. The ticket prices doubled again in the next decade and shows were still houseful. The single screens suffered but could still exist simultaneously making their share of profits due to the big hits and increasing quantity of movie releases. This was cool till January 2016 when something changed again and the foundation for Movie theaters vs OTT was laid.
Netflix, an already well established huge online movie hub decided to change their route to Indian Markets. Job 4:8 started to take place. Job 4:8 is a verse from the Bible that says those who plough evil, the same they shall reap. The Multiplex associations and investors were so far ok with this as the movies were still making it big in Theaters only and the producers were still their dolls to play with. They had no clue that due to what had already changed in the 90s and early 2000s, Netflix had a couple of advantages to get started.
- Indians already knew foriegn brands and were in love with it already because of the 90s change.
- Netflix brought along good content and India still lacks this basic requirement big time.
Netflix signed up 500 million users in India by end of 2017. Amazon understood this early and decided to invest in India as well. Indian TV channels along with YouTube in India now started to wake up and launched their own apps with content that was free and premium and obviously they were late. Initially they thought adding already released movies to the app would be enough to enter the market which created more lag until they understood that only original, new and good content would work. As a result of this, Netflix and Amazon Prime currently lead India’s Over The Top (OTT) content market and almost everyone you and i know is currently subscribed to them. They aim and being regular and grow better with their content which is fairly visible to the audiences and hence they’ll continue to lead. Hotstar recently joined the race by first joining hands with Disney and then aiming at releasing movies exclusively and releasing them on their platform as early as a month after being released in the theaters apart from being able to keep people signed up and engaged with IPL for three months of the year.
The Covid-19 Pandemic and the lockdown gave the OTTs a way bigger opportunity to take over the theater business completely and turning more subscribers to their list. Indian OTT platforms like Zee5 and MX Player were able to create some brilliant content and their release time was perfect – during the lockdown in India. While it didn’t affect the big players much but they did join the list of competitors and we can now expect much more. Amazon Prime and Netflix have added some big movie releases to their list for obvious reasons – They cannot create good content during the pandemic and the producers and distributors of the movies cannot release their movies in the theaters. The movie creators like i mentioned earlier as the dolls of the multiplexes currently have turned dolls to OTTs but will soon be able to bargain a deal before releasing their movies with the competition that will remain for sometime between the theaters who’d like to recover after the pandemic and the OTT platforms who are building their market because of the advantage they have.
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