Rewind 2020: "Be careful in drawing too many learnings from a disruptive year"

As we are set to bid adieu to 2020 – a year of major disruptions, global shutdowns, economic rollercoaster due to COVID-19 – there are several lessons and takeaways from this momentous year. Adgully brings its annual review of the year gone by, wherein industry experts analyse the most significant developments and trends of the year and their implications on the coming year as well.

Shailesh Kapoor, Ceo, Ormax Media, recounts the major disruptions in the entertainment industry in 2020, the strong growth registered by OTT apps and gaming on the one hand and the maximum brunt borne by the cinema industry on the other hand. He also affirms that OTT’s growth won’t come at the cost of TV or films.

Developments & disruptions

2020 has obviously been an unusual year for all businesses, and the M&E sector is no exception. Except businesses in the digital domain, all other sectors have struggled to various degrees, with theatrical business bearing the maximum brunt. The impact on television business has been significant too, because of the high dependence of TV on advertising revenues. The streaming sector, especially the OTT apps and gaming, have shown strong growth, aided in no small measure by the lockdown.

One should be careful in drawing too many learnings from an unusual and disruptive year such as this. There is a lot of debate on whether OTT apps will replace cinema halls or TV, but that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Once big films start releasing in theatres, we will see audiences flocking to watch their favourite stars in larger-than-life roles. While the OTT sector will continue to get bigger, this growth won’t come at the cost of TV or films. In effect, total time and money spent on entertainment will increase as a result.

The year in Entertainment

The star system has been disrupted a bit because of COVID-19. While we don’t expect any long-term impact of this in the South languages, the Bollywood market is a different case, because most top male stars are on the wrong side 50 in their age. OTT platforms have shown that content can work without star power. We can expect Bollywood to take a leaf out of that book and invest more in scripts, so that films are not over-dependent on star power. This change can be a healthy one for the ecosystem in general, but will need a strong commitment towards respecting writers on part of the studios and production houses.

Looking ahead in 2021

2021 is likely to be a big year for the theatrical business, but only after normalcy returns post vaccine. The first half of this year may see slow recovery, but we can expect a windfall at the box office in the second half of 2021, as a theatre-starved audience will go back in more force than ever before. In the TV industry, some of the smaller, niche channels had to bear the impact of the economic slowdown, with many having shut down in 2019 and 2020. But the core genres (GECs, Movies, News, Sports and Kids) will continue to thrive, and make a recovery in ad revenues in 2021.

One also expects regional content to become more prominent in the coming year. Regional and language pride has been a strong trend on the rise in the last few years, and that’s likely to grow further in the coming years. Malayalam cinema has been doing very well, and other language cinemas, especially Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, are giving competition to Hindi, via the dubbed variants. So, while regional consumption will grow, we will also see it traveling wider, via language options, across theatres, TV and OTT.


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