Rewind 2022: OTT zone goes big with experimentation

Published on Dec 28, 2022 12:36 PM IST

For the OTT world, reality has always been about setting one’s own set of trends -- some which might stay on while some might vanish with time

Pankaj Tripathi’s Criminal Justice Adhura Sach was one of the shows which opted to drop one episode per week instead of the whole episode at one go
Pankaj Tripathi’s Criminal Justice Adhura Sach was one of the shows which opted to drop one episode per week instead of the whole episode at one go
BySugandha Rawal

For the OTT world, reality has always been about setting one’s own set of trends -- some which might stay on while some might vanish with time. But the year of 2022 will always be remembered as the one that marked experimentation in the OTT space, from exploring the pay per view model to getting interactive.

According to director Rohan Sippy, it won’t be wrong to call 2022 as the year of experimentation.

“It has been good in terms of experiments and formats the platform explored this year. We have seen makers constantly innovate in terms of the content as well as the model,” says Sippy, who spearheaded the launch of Criminal Justice: Adhura Sach and Mithya this year.

Here, actor Shweta Tripathi Sharma, who was seen in the second season of The Gone Game, Escaype Live and Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein this year, asserts, “We have tapped the tip of the iceberg”.

“There is more variety to watch now, from fiction, K drama, thriller, and documentaries. OTT allows us to explore genres and concepts which otherwise wouldn’t have seen the light of day,” Sharma adds.

What’s in a language?

This year, according to media consulting firm Ormax, viewership of international content on the platforms in India has nearly doubled in 2022 with the audience operating for original and dubbed versions of English, Turkish, Spanish and Korean projects. In addition to it, the space has a special focus on regional languages, which is being appreciated by the audiences. And it is proved through the numbers in the Ormax report. The most viewed international series this year include House of the Dragon (28.2 million) and Moon Knight (23.4 million) beating last year’s record of 19.3 million by Hawkeye.

“The big step this year has been about becoming language agnostic. If it is good content, people don’t care what language it is made in. That is also a reason why we saw a rise in dubs of the shows,” says Amit Dhanuka, Executive Vice President, Lionsgate, admitting he witnessed the same reflect in the journey of their titles which includes Gaslit, and Tokyo Vice.

Here, Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO at Ormax, explains, “When it comes to dubbing, it has been witnessed that they are dubbing in at least seven- eight Indian languages. Dubbing is something which platforms have taken as high on priority, it will surely unlock growth in the future. Because if you make content accessible to audiences in their language of comfort, it will trigger viewership”.

It’s all about the sequel!

From Gullak 3, Panchayat 2, Delhi Crime 2, third season of Four More Shots Please!, Undekhi 2 to Breathe universe to Masaba Masaba second season, the year was ruled by follow up parts of several hit projects.

“2022 has been the season of sequels. There have been more seasons or sequels of the shows rather than the original shows. That also shows that people are playing it safe. They are relying on old successful shows rather than getting on a new show,” says Undekhi director Ashish R Shukla.

Aranyak director Vinay Waikul also asserts, “They are taking a safer route where if something is working, everyone will start replicating it. Everybody wants to go on that road rather than making original content”.

The money game

A joint report by the industry body CII and BCG has indicated that there is now “increasing willingness” to pay for premium/exclusive content, with the platforms starting to use the ‘rent’ option more aggressively in 2022. While it is still not used by all the platforms, it is one trend which is catching everyone’s attention.

“We have noticed a gradual shift towards consumers opting for the ‘pay-per-view’ model. This trend is further reinforced with 93% Indians preferring to ‘rent’ a title on the platform (BookMyShow Stream) rather than ‘buy’ it and a steadily growing repeat viewership that currently stands at 27%,” reveals Ashish Saksena, COO - Cinemas, BookMyShow.

He continues, “Recent releases such as Assassins, The Spacewalker, Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Batman, Morbius, Top Gun: Maverick, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore and more have ruled the roost and drawn more users to the TVOD model through BookMyShow Stream. So much that one binge-watcher from Mumbai rented the thriller documentary Assassins 12 times this year”.

Genre bender

It was a genre mixing year for space with the thrill with the kill of Freddy, and Human, mixed with the cheer of Rocket Boys. If there was Ranveer Singh going on an interactive adventure with Bear Grylls, there was Malaika Arora, Maheep Kapoor, Seema Sajdeh, and Neelam Kothari opening up their lives in front of the camera. Not to forget the continuing trend of direct to OTT films.

“For me, the beautiful thing about the streaming space is that it celebrates all genres. Audiences have watched Delhi Crime but they have also watched shows like Panchayat and Gullak which are in the slice of life / comedy space. That is encouraging to me as an actor because there seems to be room for good storytelling across genres,” says actor Rasika Dugal, who was seen in the second season of Delhi Crime.

Shailesh also shares, “There was a mix of genres. There were shows on crime, comedy, dramas, with emotional human stories coming out. The genre mix definitely got better this year”.

Undekhi 2 actor Dibyendu Bhattacharya declares it as the year of experimentation, saying. “Platforms are happy to explore more experiments, which are making noise. And it is giving more scope to the actors as well as other creative artistes”.

Weekly routine

This year also saw streaming giants rewriting their binge eating ways by leaning away by releasing one or two episodes every week, instead of dropping the whole show. From the West, some of the top shows such as She Hulk, House of Dragons, Ms Marvel followed the same format. And Indian shows tried to catch up to the trend, with Criminal Justice: Adhura Sach being one of the prominent examples for the same.

“We witnessed initial hiccups because the audience was in a habit of watching the content at one go, but after that they really appreciated it, and even became the most viewed show. They used to wait for the new episode to come, and some waited for all the episodes to come so that they could binge watch,” says actor Pankaj Tripathi.

In the same vein, Criminal Justice: Adhura Sach creator Rohan Sippy adds, “The new strategy of weekly episodes worked very well for all of us. It was nice to see everyone trying out new things and the market evolving”.

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