Adapting to an ongoing pandemic: The way ahead for entertainment
2020 was a tumultuous year for commerce, and the entertainment industry was no exception. With serious health and safety concerns, theatres being shut down, film sets facing indefinite delays, productions stalled, shootings cancelled and other movie events being put on hold, it’s safe to say that no domain within the industry was left unscathed due to the upheaval caused by the pandemic. There have been massive changes to adapt to, at breakneck speed, in terms of creation and logistics.
Worryingly, revenues from the film industry fell by 62% to ₹7,220 Crore in 2020 vs. 2019. And it is estimated this may fall further by 10-20% in 2021, as per a recent report issued by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
Challenges faced by production houses
Production houses are faced with a diverse set of challenges and changes these days. On a positive note, brands are looking at campaigns where they require multiple advertisements for multiple scenarios for the same product/service and exploring different forms of story-telling, all at a much faster pace. However, competition is fierce due to the rise in number of production houses, leading to cost-cutting at the expense of quality. There is also a marked increase in the need for companies to not only keep abreast with the latest technology, but to stay one step ahead of the game and continue working during global closures.
Another challenge in the country is that there is growing and thriving talent pool, now restless to accomplish, but feeling increasingly unsupported both in terms of vision and pace. The reluctance to experiment with breakthrough films and other content from a lot of production houses, means that talent is often more ready to jump ship to better opportunities.
Pressure due to curtailed ad spends
Due to the global pandemic, the profits of production houses have declined. At the same time there are large media auditing companies responsible for maintaining records on spends by brands during the course of campaign launches. Pandemic related cost-cutting and a reduction in consumption have led to a decline in ad spends, but the cost of production hasn’t reduced.
A welcome takeaway
The Rise of OTT
The show however must go on and the good news is that now well into in 2021, it is evident that the entertainment industry has been busy paving new ways to return to a semblance of normality and innovating new approaches to ensure a steady stream of content.
OTT platforms have been a boon for content creators and producers, and have helped to not just up the ante but to encourage the creation of fresh, unique content that is marketable to and consumed by entirely new audience bases. An audience that is now accustomed to having a plethora of genres and digital platforms to choose from. According to a report by London-based independent analyst Omdia, audiences will have access to approximately 400 original titles this year, as compared to less than 200 in 2020.
India is a land with an immensely rich cultural, social and historical heritage, that is and has been a substantial influence and a key driving force for a vast majority of cinematic stories coming from the country, spread across diverse regional story telling. While certain genres are becoming increasingly unfeasible to bring to the big screen, OTT platforms are proving to be a haven for intimate, thought provoking and deeply human stories, that can now better reach the audiences that they are meant for.
There has been exponential growth in consumption, and it has given rise to a higher demand for the creation of quality content. While many activities are still fairly restricted, with the advent of OTT platforms offering realistic relatable content, producers and film-makers have the opportunity to leverage the current trends at a quicker pace.
Focusing on a blend of the theatre-going immersive cinematic experience that audiences miss and content catered to quick consumption for a digitally native generation is the way forward. This has accelerated the need for creativity, optimism and experimentation that will also help create more diverse content, nurture a larger talent pool and cater to a growing audience base, in order to continue thriving in the industry.