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Theatrical films are one of the more inclusive content types for streamers in India. Which platforms have the strongest film libraries, with recent box office hits?
Published on March 14, 2022   •   4 mins read
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Summary
  • While original series and direct-to-OTT films drive marketing for OTT platforms, streaming rights of theatrical films are a crucial piece in an OTT platform's content strategy, especially when targeting small towns and South India
  • Through an analysis of 373 films across six languages (Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam & Hollywood), the authors establish the relative strengths of various OTT platforms based on their film libraries
  • Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar and Netflix emerge as the leaders, while MX Player shows significant presence in the South markets

The streaming (OTT) category has grown at a rapid pace in India over the two pandemic years, and this growth has been the subject of various articles on this website too. Original content (web-series and direct-to-OTT films) has dominated the discourse around streaming content over this period. Many big-ticket theatrical films took the streaming route when theatres were closed, leading to sizeable viewership numbers. Similarly, many top-end Bollywood stars have featured in original series, generating both media and audience interest.

While originals drive marketing visibility for streaming platforms, and play a significant role in driving new SVOD subscriptions, there’s another content segment of compelling importance: Theatrical films that can be streamed on OTT after their theatrical runs.

Theatrical content is one of the more mainstream content types in India. Unlike originals, that are popular among early OTT adopters, typically under the age of 30-35 years in the metros and the mini metros, theatrical content holds wider appeal, including in the small towns and among the older audiences. In South India, which contributes 28% to India’s SVOD audience universe, originals are still a nascent idea, and theatrical content dominates viewer interest.

Hence, a platform’s ‘film library’ is a crucial element in its content mix. Which platforms have an edge over the others on this attribute? We decided to find out.

Methodology

We used domestic box office data to identify the top films in six languages: Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam & Hollywood. Films released between 2016 and 2021 were considered, and domestic footfalls was taken as the selection parameter, with a cut-off of 5 Million footfalls for Hindi, 3 Million for Tamil & Telugu, and 2 Million for the other three languages. This criterion resulted in a list of 373 titles (Telugu: 90, Hindi: 84, Malayalam: 58, Tamil: 54, Hollywood: 49 & Kannada: 38).

For each film, we identified the OTT platform where it can be currently streamed in India. For films available on multiple platforms, the attribution was divided equally, e.g., 0.5 each in case of two platforms. The findings that follow are based on this analysis.

Hindi Films

The chart below captures how things stand for Hindi theatrical films on OTT. Amazon Prime Video (APV) leads with 38% share, followed by Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar. The three platforms control 90% share between them, and ZEE5 accounts for bulk of the rest.

BWOTT.png

Hindi films are the most expensive to acquire for post-theatrical streaming, and some platforms have stayed away from this content category altogether. Netflix’s high share can come as a surprise to some readers, because the platform is dominantly associated with its International content, and ‘Bollywood hits’ is not something most viewers would think of, when they think Netflix.

APVOTT.png

South Language Films

While the platform-level share of top films varies by language (see chart below), APV holds the leadership position in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages. An interesting entrant here is the AVOD platform MX Player, which has double-digit share across the four languages, and is a strong no. 2 in Kannada and Malayalam.

SouthOTT1.png

Many South films on MX Player are a part of a content-sharing arrangement with Sun NXT. But as can be seen in the difference in the share of these two platforms, MX Player also has a strong film library that’s exclusive to it, in all South languages except Telugu.

MXOTT.png

Regional platforms other than Sun NXT hold minimal share, with only one of them (ManoramaMax for Malayalam) crossing the 10% mark.

Hollywood Films

Aided in no small measure by the Marvel and the Disney content on the platform, Disney+ Hotstar controls 43% share of Hollywood films. Only three platforms have any play in this language sub-genre at all.

HWOTT.png

In Conclusion

Many platforms have avoided investment in streaming rights of theatrical films simply because they come at a huge price, and as a result, three platforms (APV, Disney+ Hotstar and Netflix) dominate this content space. Once pandemic-induced subscriber growth stagnates, a strong library of theatrical films will play a strategic role in SVOD platforms expanding their subscription base in smaller towns and among older audiences. Will the likes of ZEE5, Sony LIV and Voot assert their presence, or leave this playing field for the top three to battle it out? A follow-up analysis at the end of 2022 should answer that question.

OTT Streaming Digital Bollywood South Cinema Hollywood
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Authors

Shailesh Kapoor

Shailesh Kapoor

After completing his engineering from IIT Delhi and his MBA from IIM Calcutta, Shailesh started a career in an industry he was, and continues to be, deeply passionate about: the Indian media & entertainment industry. After nine years in the industry in various marketing, content, business and strategy roles, he turned entrepreneur in 2008, when he co-founded Ormax Media, a company that has pioneered the usage of insights to help Indian media companies take financially-sound and consumer-centric business decisions.

Over 24 years, Shailesh has built a deep understanding of the industry, which he channelises into building compelling business solutions at Ormax Media. He is an avid writer, having written more than 500 articles and columns on the Indian media landscape over the years.

Shailesh enjoys quizzing, following sports and keeping himself updated on various topics of public interest, ranging from politics to technology.

Shailesh Kapoor

After completing his engineering from IIT Delhi and his MBA from IIM Calcutta, Shailesh started a career in an industry he was, and continues to be, deeply passionate about: the Indian media & entertainment industry. After nine years in the industry in various marketing, content, business and strategy roles, he turned entrepreneur in 2008, when he co-founded Ormax Media, a company that has pioneered the usage of insights to help Indian media companies take financially-sound and consumer-centric business decisions.

Over 24 years, Shailesh has built a deep understanding of the industry, which he channelises into building compelling business solutions at Ormax Media. He is an avid writer, having written more than 500 articles and columns on the Indian media landscape over the years.

Shailesh enjoys quizzing, following sports and keeping himself updated on various topics of public interest, ranging from politics to technology.

Amit Bhatia

Amit Bhatia

A part of the Ormax Media team since 2012, Amit currently heads the Tracking team, which is a part of the Products division at the company. His team is responsible for managing several industry tools such as Ormax Cinematix, Ormax Characters India Loves, Ormax Stream Track, Ormax Showbuzz, Ormax Heartbeats, Political Approval Ratings and Ormax Stars India Loves, among others.

Amit holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Economics from Delhi University, and a master’s degree in Brand & Media Management from MICA, Ahmedabad. Before joining Ormax Media, Amit had worked in the consumer durables industry as a brand manager. He is a food lover, and is passionate about cricket and cinema.

Amit Bhatia

A part of the Ormax Media team since 2012, Amit currently heads the Tracking team, which is a part of the Products division at the company. His team is responsible for managing several industry tools such as Ormax Cinematix, Ormax Characters India Loves, Ormax Stream Track, Ormax Showbuzz, Ormax Heartbeats, Political Approval Ratings and Ormax Stars India Loves, among others.

Amit holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Economics from Delhi University, and a master’s degree in Brand & Media Management from MICA, Ahmedabad. Before joining Ormax Media, Amit had worked in the consumer durables industry as a brand manager. He is a food lover, and is passionate about cricket and cinema.

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