OTT platforms have witnessed a sharp spike in viewership due to lockdown

Updated: 24 March, 2020 08:35 IST | Mohar Basu, Letty Mariam Abraham | Mumbai

OTT platforms witness six to 20 per cent boost in viewership due to lockdown; rejig their slate for the next two months.

Amazon Prime's Four More Shots Please 2 remain unchanged
Amazon Prime's Four More Shots Please 2 remain unchanged

As the lockdown has left people homebound, OTT platforms have witnessed a sharp spike in the consumption of content. On one hand, with shoots across the country suspended, digital projects that were on floors are bound to be delayed. On the other hand, as they enjoy the undivided attention of viewers sans the competition posed by television that is churning out reruns of shows, some streaming platforms are considering advancing the release of their series. So, how are the big players charting the uncertain waters of the coming weeks?

Netflix and Amazon Prime are adhering to their India slate for the time being. A case in point being Manisha Koirala's Netflix film Maska that drops this Friday. Ask director Neeraj Udhwani how he completed the post-production in the current scenario, and he explains, "I delivered the film to them in the first week of January. As a rule, they ask for the material in advance because it then goes for an entire round of subtitling across the countries it is releasing in."

The release dates of Netflix's Maska
The release dates of Netflix's Maska

While the release of a project being advanced seems unlikely, there is a possibility that the April and May offerings — despite being complete — could be pushed ahead. An insider at Netflix India, requesting anonymity, shares, "Maska's promotional work was done in early March, so its release seems viable. But with the marketing team working from home now, the next month's line-up could change if the situation doesn't improve post March 31. It would be unwise to release a project without promoting it adequately."

At Amazon Prime, all eyes are on the second season of Four More Shots Please. The marketing team is devising a virtual promotional plan, thereby ensuring that the release is not deferred owing to low buzz.

Voot Select head Ferzad Palia says new shows like Arshad Warsi-starrer Asur have received positive response and the growth in the subscriber base could be attributed to it
Voot Select head Ferzad Palia says new shows like Arshad Warsi-starrer Asur have received positive response and the growth in the subscriber base could be attributed to it

An insider from the production team informs, "Combination dates from the leads of the show have been procured, and telephonic interviews have been lined up. All the video interviews have been called off for now, and will be pursued later over video call. Individually, the cast is promoting the show on social media."

Meanwhile, Zee5 — which has seen a six per cent rise in viewership — has ALTBalaji's Baarish season two and Who's Your Daddy lined up for next month. An insider informs, "However, the bosses at ALTBalaji and Zee5 have had to push the March release of Bebaki as its patchwork shoot could not be completed due to the suspension of shoots."

The second edition of ALTBalaji's Baarish is likely to release online next month
The second edition of ALTBalaji's Baarish is likely to release online next month

Hungama Play has seen a 20 per cent rise in viewership and a change in the watching patterns over the past month, says Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital Media. It is arguably the only streaming platform to have advanced the release of a few shows to make the most of the period. "We had planned to release Comedycha Rada, a Marathi stand-up comedy special, in the second half of April. However, we are now bringing that forward to early April. We are also looking at the possibility of launching another show, Bhootatlela, a horror comedy in Hindi and Marathi, next month."

Ferzad Palia, head, Voot Select, acknowledges that the platform has witnessed an uptake of subscribers. But he believes that the new offerings also have a role to play in the rise in subscribers. "Our new content like Asur and Marzi have received a positive response. So, the growth could be attributed to the new content as well as the current situation. We have three Hindi originals and five regional shows [which are] ready for release."

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First Published: 24 March, 2020 07:13 IST

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