Local OTT Platforms Should Live On Commissions 

By Satya Cine Apr. 14, 2020, 11:48 am IST
Local OTT Platforms Should Live On Commissions 

The audience are not showing much interest to watch small films in theaters for a long time.  Many filmmakers keep on complaining that they are not getting enough number of screens for their small budget films.

Big films are snatching away holiday seasons and festivals and leaving the crap release dates to the small films is another complaint. 

Let us keep aside all these arguments for a while and focus on the present. The Covid-19 has devastated movie exhibition industry across the globe.  Theaters are closed for the past few weeks and there is uncertainty on the future of movie exhibition industry at least for the next two to three months.

Many people are already habituated to OTT platforms.  Due to the lockdown imposed by the Indian government, they got addicted to OTTs.  At this juncture, discussions are going on in the film circles and media regarding the direct release of movies on OTT platforms instead of traditional theatrical release. 

Many people opine that the economics will not work for the direct release of big ticket films but it is wise to release small budget flicks on OTTs.  There are plenty of reports stating that discussions are going on between OTT managements and small filmmakers those have ready-to-release films with them.

But it is not simple as it appears on the surface level. OTT platforms are not offering outright deals to these filmmakers but they are coming up with pay-per-view model. So, the makers would get money based on the number of views.  Naturally, this becomes a headache for the makers because they have to advertise their films for more number of views. 

Let us take an example of a small film with budget of 5 crores.  If the OTTs  should offer at least 5-6 crores, then the deal would be profitable for the makers.  Because they would get profits from other sources like satellite rights, YouTube rights, dubbing rights and, if possible theatrical collections.  

But the OTTs are not much concerned about the budgets. They won't get any new subscribers with the small films. So the majority of them are batting for pay-per-view model.  

Why do they do this? Offering outright deals is not a profitable business model for them. They get money from subscribers and the subscription fees is very less. With a single subscription, the entire family watches hundreds of films multiple times.  So, collection-wise the OTTs cannot be compared to theatres. It is obvious that they won't pay more money to small filmmakers.

This is the present scenario.  Now, some experts in the trade are coming up with an interesting proposal which will benefit both the filmmakers and OTT platforms. 

The OTT platform should act like an online theater platform where the filmmakers release their films.  The filmmakers should have the right to fix the ticket prices and the OTTs should not run on subscribing model.

It is just like a theatrical release. The price of the ticket should be limited for only single viewing. They will charge more for the multiple viewings, something like the present scenario in youtube.  

The OTT platform provides HD quality viewing and strong server backup for this online theater concept for avoiding interruptions during the screenings.  The OTTs should take 20-25% commission on each ticket.

Speaking in layman's words, everything works like a theater but it is online theater. The OTTs can shift these films to the regular subscribers after a certain period.

If any OTT comes up with this kind of a model, then it will become a boon for small filmmakers. Not just small filmmakers, but the big ticket films also explore this option because they have the chance of investment recovery.

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