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NEW DELHI : Over-the-top video streaming platforms (OTT) are rapidly lining up big movies for the holiday district to retain existing viewers and add new ones to their base.

OTT services, which saw their audiences jump nearly 50-60% at the height of the covid-19 pandemic last year, are experiencing a 10% drop in growth rates and fear a further drop from 5 to 7% as families go out for celebrations and theaters begin to reopen with big-ticket movies.

To attract new viewers and entertain their user base, streaming services are targeting hit releases for holiday weekends. Netflix to preview Karan Johar’s film Meenakshi Sundareshwar for Diwali and a superhero movie Minnal Murali for Christmas while Disney + Hotstar has Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Sanon-starrer Hum do Humare do for Diwali.

ZEE5 will present Taapsee Pannu-starrer Rashmi rocket to coincide with Dussehra this week while Amazon Prime Video has Vicky Kaushal’s Sardar oudham and the Tamil star Suriya’s Jai Bhim respectively for Dussehra and Diwali.

“With people confined to their homes and no other means of entertainment available during the peak of the pandemic, viewership on OTT had clearly peaked. But the holiday season comes with all the vibe and energy of social engagement, and users will certainly have little time to consume content on a personal device, ”admitted a senior manager of the platform. form of streaming that did not wish to be named. The person added that OTT services also expect cinemas to make a comeback as people have been locked in their homes for too long.

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney + Hotstar, ZEE5, and SonyLIV did not respond to Mint queries.

“With people always having to stay at home as much as possible, OTT platforms will be one of the best sources of entertainment this holiday season. There is always at least a slight peak in audience during most holidays, ”said Divya Dixit, senior vice president, revenue and marketing, ALTBalaji, referring to OTT as a more user-friendly option.

The platform, she said, will push the boundaries of UI and experience innovations, creating a pipeline of content, new business models and marketing strategies this holiday season. “Theaters and OTT will continue to coexist as the former will always be part of a planned release while the latter has now become a source of daily entertainment for most Internet users,” Dixit added.

Ajay Mehta, founder and managing director of entertainment marketing company Interactive Television (iTV), said the company sees a strong tendency for people to venture out of their homes. The subways show the fastest return to normal in terms of mobility. “We expect theaters to have a good quarter. The security techniques employed by the national multiplex chains are also quite robust and will give the public confidence. Each new release is a step in the journey of theaters returning to pre-pandemic occupancy levels and unless there is a third wave we see a possibility that occupancy levels will reach very quickly. pre-covid levels. It’s also on the back of revenge consumption, ”Mehta added.

Hiren Gada, CEO of Shemaroo Entertainment, owner of the ShemarooMe app, said his platform sees the reopening of theaters as a positive development as big-ticket movies will eventually be able to find their way to the platforms of streaming. “In addition, the pandemic is not yet over and there are still restrictions imposed by the government,” Gada said. If people are at home, they will look forward to family-oriented programming, he said. The service will launch a webcast in Gujarati. as Diwali approaches.

Soumya Mukherjee, vice president, revenue and strategy, Bengali streaming service Hoichoi, said that the period October to January brings their main activity and that while people come out, they also expect premium titles on OTT. The service will bring out a show titled Byomkesh 7 for Diwali.

Ali Hussein, CEO of Eros Now, said returning audiences to theaters would not have a band-aid scam effect on OTTs in terms of drastic audience change. “People will come back slowly over a three to four month period and that will depend a lot on the performance of films like Sooryavanshi,” he added. Eros will release a love anthology titled Aisa Waisa Pyaar and a horror show around Diwali.

Mehul Gupta, co-founder and CEO of SoCheers, an independent digital agency, said that while theaters have their own charm, streaming habits are now pretty much ingrained in people and there won’t be any immediate change. in user behavior. “The holiday season is a great opportunity and the services can certainly create value for families,” Gupta said, calling in time for Amazon’s recent initiative to bundle other SvoD services on its app and website. under Prime Video channels.

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