One of the things that we missed doing the most in the worldwide pandemic due to COVID-19 was going to the movie theaters and enjoying all the different genres of production shown there all day long. The entire movie business had come to a standstill due to the lockdown. Since there was significantly less knowledge and interest towards online paid media platforms at the beginning of the global lockdown, there was not much to do apart from waiting for the lockdown to lift. There were no film shootings allowed and no movies released because the theaters were closed. With no other option in sight, people gradually started opening up and looking for alternate options to keep the entertainment business going forward. That is when the OTT platform came into the spotlight and stayed there throughout the lockdown.
What is OTT?
OTT stands for Over The Top. It implies all the media platforms apart from the conventional theaters that support streaming of movies, television series and more. These platforms include all the different online paid streaming services that are used for watching the new and trending series and films on our mobiles, laptops, TVs and even smart TVs. The OTT platform gained popularity within a mere few months of the nationwide lockdown in India in the previous year. Most households even switched from their television subscriptions to OTT subscriptions. Movies set to release before the lockdown started were released on these platforms, and people could watch these movies at their homes. These platforms require the viewer to purchase a subscription to the streaming service they want, on either a weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis. By subscribing to the platforms, the person can gain access to all the content that they offer. As the audience started liking this new format and started adopting it for convenience, and with no alternative, the entertainment media shifted to the online mode, and people who never thought of paying for these services started buying subscriptions for their friends and family.
What is the future of OTT?
The coronavirus seems to be subsiding worldwide, and all places have started opening up to visitors again. Even movie theaters are set to reopen very soon while adhering to the regulations for social distancing and sanitizing parameters, much to the excitement of many. Movies will start being screened physically in these theaters. The benefit of movie theaters is that the entire dark atmosphere and big screens help the audience to focus on the movie storyline and forget about everything else. For almost three hours, the viewers live the life of the movie’s protagonist and experience the place of the movie’s location, which can be New York or Paris or Las Vegas. It is an entirely different and surreal experience, which cannot be replaced by mobile or laptop screens at home.
The familiar feeling of coming out of a movie theater and having animated and hearty discussions about
the movie with your companion is a feeling matched by no other. However, the OTT platform has many advantages over the theater screens. It is more convenient and less risky, meaning that everyone is watching content in the comfort of their houses in the solace of their beds, without worrying about any social distancing norms. Another advantage is that it is a subscription model providing offers and discounts from time to time, which means a lot of money-saving is happening. It also provides unlimited movies and series for a specific period for a specific amount. Thus, for those who are always on the move from one city to another, or the ones who prefer the quiet of their homes to the hustle-bustle of the theaters. The food is also more expensive in the theaters, and in some places, the price of popcorn is almost as much as the price of the ticket itself! In such cases, OTT subscriptions will continue as the preferred mode of entertainment service. But to those who love the thrill of getting ready and going to the movies with their friends, taking pictures and enjoying the silence inside the theater; those who can’t wait till the next movie is released so that they can book their tickets and go to watch it at the earliest – those people will always prefer the theaters, regardless of what discounts or offers online streaming service providers offer.