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OTT, low ratings, lack of single screens take Bollywood to an inflection point

The Hindi film industry aka Bollywood, after decades of story-telling that has made us elated and exuberant, or sad and thoughtful at times seems to be at an inflection point unlike any other disruption it has faced before.

OTT, low ratings, lack of single screens take Bollywood to an inflection point
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OTT, low ratings, lack of single screens take Bollywood to an inflection point

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Mumbai: The Hindi film industry aka Bollywood, after decades of story-telling that has made us elated and exuberant, or sad and thoughtful at times seems to be at an inflection point unlike any other disruption it has faced before.

An study by the internal economic research group of SBI says that it tries to outline the chief reasons and embark on some suggestions for this vital industry that gives a lot of 'soft power' to the idea of India; The average rating of 43 Hindi movies since Jan 2021 was just 5.9, way below the 7.3 rating of 18 Hindi dubbed movies. A simple regression exercise indicates that an extra one point IMDB rating leads to Rs17 crore more collections.

Secondly, there has been a decline in single screen theatres and films are now released in multiplex audiences. At a multiplex, the ticket cost is three to four times more than single screen theatres. The costly ticket prices are also due to the high entertainment tax for Hindi movies. Interestingly, 62 per cent of the single screen theatres are in South India, with North India having a share of only 16 per cent followed by West with 10 per cent of all single screen cinema halls. This could also be the reason why South Indian movies (in local area) are generating more revenues than Bollywood movies recently.

Thirdly, the demographic profile across states may be impacting moviegoers. Online platforms come up with different genres like action, horror, drama, thriller, and comedy. The millennials uses more of these platforms to watch genres they prefer the most. South Indian states have higher share of elderly people compared to North Indian States who would still prefer watching movies on big screen in theatres than on OTT platforms.

Fourthly, a major disruption in Indian entertainment industry is the emergence of OTT (over-the-top), which shares around 7-9 per cent of the entertainment industry, and is constantly growing with over 40 odd players and offering original media content in all languages. As per reports, there are 45 crore OTT subscribers in India and it is expected to reach 50 crore by end-2023. The rise in OTT is expected to eat into cinemas viewers and profits, as more than 50 per cent of the people use OTTs more than 5 hours in a month. Also options like Smart TV, Chromecast coming into the picture have impacted the traditional mode of entertainment the most. These developments have helped to bring movie theatre experience at home, with seemingly unlimited choices spoiling the viewers!

Soymya Kanti Ghosh, SBI group's chief economic advisor, says: "We end with an interesting titbit regarding a shift in human behaviour that could hold the aces for movies going forward! This shift in human behaviour reminds us of the power of human civilization to embrace the past but aligned to future! As an example, the fashion industry is witnessing that bell bottoms are a rage, again! Their retro inspired aesthetic and flare shape are re-founding the connect with the young ones, from tony by lanes of Colaba to industrious and enterprising town of Coimbatore as the term resonated more with youngsters post the last year's big release in theatres, the first such post pandemic, Bell Bottom in August'21. The Banking Industry is now embracing the DFI model for lending to infrastructure which was in vogue almost three decades back. The list could actually be endless.

Let's fast forward to the movies. The 80s saw the exponential rise in Video Cassette renting (VCR/VCP) that for the first time challenged the established modes and models. The ubiquitous neighbourhood corner man, renting the different genres of movies, cleverly accommodating the taste, and liking of the viewer group ensured that collective binge was available for the first time from the comforts of the home. The rise of the multiplexes since early 2000s across metro/urban areas effectively killed the DVD industry and single screens. However, the onslaught of OTT seems to have taken us back to the good old days of watching moving at home just like the DVD era, only with enhanced choices!

We have a small suggestion though! It's rather surprising that no merchandise industry centred around films was created in India unlike Hollywood. There was some attempts though like the cap from the 90s Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin, or Friendship badges from Maine Pyar Kiya that were a rage. We hope that a blockbuster Friday is just around the corner!

Kumud Das
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