OTT Target Audiences (TRP) and Reception: The theatrical system is the best living example of a distribution model where the producers can recover the money they have poured into a project. But given the situation, when we switch to digital mediums, the next thing we can do is to ensure that the logistics and the numbers match if the film is premiering on OTT. Even though the film doesn’t have a known cast, worldwide audiences can get access to the film and can be watched in any nook and corner of the world.
The hesitancy to go solely by data on films’ performances in different centres kicked in way before the pandemic. Instances of formula films failing miserably at the box-office as well as content-driven films unexpectedly performing well in theatres, are aplenty. Actors like Madhavan have spoken extensively about interpreting and understanding performance-related data thoroughly before letting that dictate an actor’s choices.
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How OTT Track Target Audiences (TRP) and Reception?
Theatre openings and box-office collections have been conventionally used to determine the success of a film but with OTTs entering the fray, filmmakers’ ability to track the reception of a film has become limited. “Platforms don’t share such details that only a few teams within the organisation are privy to. We get to know whether it is performing well or if the reception has been average. But the information they provide is conversational.
Much like box-office collections, the data about performance of films on OTT will also be available in the public domain. “Information about box-office collections is publicly available but is not always unerring. With OTT releases, the information is very accurate since it is AI (Artificial Intelligence) generated data, but it remains confidential. Like data about TRPs, information about performance of OTT releases will also be publicly available down the line.
How OTT platforms Track Target Audience or TRP?
Some of the OTT platforms also use the Tier I, II, III classification of audiences or ABC classification to devise content strategy catering to the sensibilities of those audiences in particular. Explaining how OTT platforms have shifted their attention to audiences in Tier II and III cities in recent times, “Filmmakers want to see their films on the platforms which have a better reach. But similarly, platforms which are all mostly new in the Indian market, want to increase their subscription base. And in order to do that, they believe the best way is to commission / license star studded content and to supplement that with story driven content. The ratios will eventually change once the platforms have settled into the indian market.”
Even within OTT platforms, some are open to experimenting, some want a mix of content-driven and commercial movies, while a few want to reach out to more subscribers through commercial entertainers. Also,the Marketing done by streaming platforms opens films to a bigger audience in many cases. “When it comes to digital platforms, they are corporate players and the bigger platforms don’t cater to a specific region in particular. So, they don’t consider Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil or Marathi films as regional language films, and market it to a pan-Indian audience.
Even in recent times, an anthology that was released in an OTT platform had customised the order based on the user’s viewing experience. For example, if you have been watching thrillers, the segment that’s a thriller would pop up first in your list. The idea is to ensure that the audience gets hooked to the content.
The reopening of theatres comes as a sigh of relief to exhibitors, distributors and a section of producers and filmmakers, but the industry predominantly believes in the co-existence of theatrical and OTT releases.
Theatres will also move to livestreaming in future. When that happens the distribution system will also change. India moving to 5G will also lead to reinvention of the existing models.
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