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OTT players return to Print and OOH media as movie calendar gets jam packed

July may go down as the month with most star-driven film releases this year, albeit on OTT platforms. Given the COVID-19 restrictions, due to which cinema halls and multiplexes continue to be closed across most parts of the country, OTT players have become the alternate platforms for film releases.

July 2021 began with the release of Tapsee Pannu-starrer, ‘Haseen Dillruba’, which dropped on Netflix on July 2. The same day, Amazon Prime Video, too, premiered Chris Pratt-starrer sci-fi action flick, ‘The Tomorrow War’. Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Black Widow’ is arriving on Disney+ Hotstar on July 9. This will be followed by Farhan Akhtar’s ‘Toofan’ on July 16 and Akshay Kumar’s ‘Bellbottom’ on July 27, which was expected to hit the theatres but might get a direct-to-OTT release as the Maharashtra Government continues to uphold Level 3 lockdown restrictions. On the other hand, there is uncertainty around Alia Bhatt’s ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’, which is looking for a theatrical launch on July 30.

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Meanwhile, several film producers have already inked digital distribution deals with OTT players to maximise revenues.

Producers are unhappy as restrictions continue to be imposed on theatres in the home of Bollywood, however, OTT players look forward to attracting massive eyeballs as the film release calendar fills up as they aggressively acquire film rights. Reportedly, digital rights to ‘Bellbottom’ have been acquired by Amazon Prime Video, who is said to have paid Rs 30 crore more than the Rs 150 crore demanded by the producers for the digital rights to the film.

As the film release calendar gets packed and films queue up for release, OTT players are increasingly leveraging traditional media like Out-of-Home and tactical print advertising to create an impact and cement their brand. Netflix released a tactical communication on print media for ‘Haseen Dillruba’ on July 3, while Amazon Prime Video has launched an OOH campaign to promote ‘The Tomorrow War’ in Juhu, Mumbai. Typically, these platforms prefer to engage their audiences primarily via digital media using a mix of content and PR driven media coverage. Netflix was already trying something different for the release of Dhanush-starrer ‘Jagame Thandhiram’ on the platform by creating a global fan event, ‘The Konga’s Kootam’, and an OOH activation at New York’s Times Square to create buzz around the film.

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The M&E sector is the sixth largest contributor to OOH advertising, as per E&Y Media and Entertainment 2020 report. As per industry reports, OTT players alone spent about Rs 350-400 crore on OOH in 2019. However in 2020, OOH saw 60% degrowth due to the lockdown restrictions and OTT players cut OOH and print out of their media budgets even as their movie slate swelled. The return of OTTs on traditional media is an encouraging sign for the film industry and the economy.

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