Stalled Shoots: OTTs may acquire content to strengthen pipeline of new releases

By: |
May 12, 2021 6:51 AM

Most content companies FE spoke to said they may not be able to meet their quarterly targets and that some scheduled launches would be delayed. However, content planned to be released before June will stay on schedule since production has been completed.

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Eros Now, SonyLiv, Voot did not respond to FE’s queries.Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Eros Now, SonyLiv, Voot did not respond to FE’s queries.

Given the cancellation of shoots and uncertainty about new schedules will disrupt the release calendar of original content by over-the-top players they could look to acquire content from other production houses. New releases are crucial for OTT players – both to retain subscribers and acquire new ones.

Most content companies FE spoke to said they may not be able to meet their quarterly targets and that some scheduled launches would be delayed. However, content planned to be released before June will stay on schedule since production has been completed.

Hungama Digital, which initially aimed to release over 20 originals in FY22, has four shows stuck at various stages of production. They were slated to be premiered in the July-September quarter. Sanjeev Lamba, executive producer, originals at Hungama Digital, said to what extent the release calendar will be impacted depends on when shooting resumes. Had shoots recommenced mid-May, the disruption would have been minimal. “Maybe we have to be a little bit more open to acquisitions over the course of the next six months,” Lamba told FE. Currently, acquisitions make up for not more than about 10-20% of the platform’s content slate.

Telugu OTT app Aha expects to release only about 20 of the targeted 30-35 originals unless shooting begins in July. The pipeline of originals has been “impacted significantly”, said CEO Ajit Thakur who is in talks with several film producers to bring a clutch of unreleased small and mid-sized films directly to the platform in order to keep the flow of content intact. Thakur said last year’s lockdown had given them sufficient time to work on show scripts due to which they have been able to ready a slate of 12 originals that will last till about September. “If we are able to restart shooting in July, only then can we produce shows for October release and beyond. However, getting back to normalcy depends on the pace of vaccinations. We do not see the situation improving before October at least,” Thakur said.

AltBalaji whose content programming is centred only around originals will look at filming most of the content indoors once restrictions are eased. Shooting outside Maharashtra will also be an earnest consideration, said Divya Dixit, SVP, marketing and revenue. For now, the platform has a line-up of few launches, including Broken but Beautiful 3, Cartel and Puncchbeat 2.

US-based Lionsgate Play that made its India debut late last year said production of two of its India originals has been stalled. Rohit Jain, managing director at Lionsgate South Asia and Networks – Emerging Markets Asia, told FE that the company is planning to acquire local content in the meanwhile and looking for partners to collaborate. The firm has also curated a mix of international content by licensing with globa media companies to keep consumers hooked. For instance, it is releasing The Girlfriend Experience 3 and Spanish show The Cleaning Lady, among others, on the platform this month.

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Eros Now, SonyLiv, Voot did not respond to FE’s queries.

Last month, Netflix while announcing its quarterly earnings, said, “we are back up and producing safely in every major market, with the exception of Brazil and India”.

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