OTT goes over the top with budget, ideas, and scale

New Delhi: They have big stars, big ideas and now big money too! The world of over-the-top or OTT platforms might be designed for the small screens, but it is not at all small when it comes to budgets being allotted for the projects.

Be it “Sacred Games”, “Bard Of Blood”, “Queer Eye”, “The Crown”, “Good Omens” or the upcoming “Lord Of The Rings” series, megabucks are being poured into creating these small screen wonders.

According to a report by KPMG in India and Eros Now, India’s online video market will have more than 500 million online video subscribers by 2023. It also pointed out that all the OTT platforms are investing heavily in the creation of original content.

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Be it Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Eros Now, Hotstar, Voot, Zee5, Viu, ALTBalaji or Sony Liv — every platform is making massive capital commitments to add more diversity to its library with original content, in a bid to stand out from the rest.

The report stated that Hotstar has set aside Rs 120 crore to make special shows in seven different languages for the Indian market this year. Zee5 intends to release 72 new originals in six languages till March 2020. Eros Now has pumped in $50 million (Rs 356 crore) to create 100 new original shows.

Netflix plans to come out with four web series in 2019 and 15 original Indian feature films by 2020. This year alone, Netflix is expected to spend $15 billion (over Rs 100 billion) on content. Clearly, India is big on their radar.

When it comes to Amazon Prime Video, the global platform is working on doubling its original content offering for India this year, with “The Family Man”, “Bandish Bandits”, an untitled drama thriller series created by Sudip Sharma highlighting Indian politics, Asif Kapadia’s crime thriller “The Last Hour”, and second seasons of “Breathe” and “Mirzapur” in the pipeline.

The grand plans by each of these OTT platforms for India are in sync with the burgeoning global presence of the medium in the world of entertainment. According to a source to “”, the budget of Amazon Studios’ “Lord Of The Rings” series could hit $1 billion, which includes the production costs, visual effects, and the cast and creative teams. Amazon bought the global rights to the property by paying around $250 million.

The streaming giant also spent big on superhero satire “The Boys”, dark fantasy thriller “Carnival Row” and on the making of the new season of “Jack Ryan” with actor John Krasinski leading the show. The period drama “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” also comes alive with big budget.

Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke says “the biggest strategy is to build a home for talent”.

“It is not about volume play. It is more about relationship-driven play with some best creators in the industry,” Salke told IANS.

“There is no end to the ambition which Amazon has… There is no mandate. It is born out of love of the content and that forms the strategy…There are no numbers which we have to hit in the streaming service. There is endless aptitude for what we can bring to the service, the bar is very high and we want to maintain the situation for streaming customer,” Salke added while explaining the strategic plan of the streaming giant.

There’s no denying that there’s big idea behind the big spending.

“The more investment you’re putting in, the more people are finding content that they love and the more they have value in the service,” “” quoted Netflix CEO Reed Hastings as saying.

In fact, upcoming Disney+ is also widening the content slate, with ambitious projects — which will come with big budgets.

There’s animated series “What If…?”, “WandaVision”, animated series “Monsters At Work”, superhero projects with She-Hulk, Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel, Ewan McGregor returning to the “Star Wars” universe for a series around Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jon Favreau’s “Mandalorian”.

There are reports that Apple is spending $6 billion on its initial line-up of content for streaming service, Apple TV Plus.

The race has just started.

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