Can box office hits on OTT turn into a blockbuster opportunity for advertisers?

Superhit movies on streaming platforms are outperforming OTT originals on Ormax Buzz ratings. However, such films are launched mostly on SVoD, limiting their advertising potential

by Team PITCH
Published - November 17, 2023
5 minutes To Read
Can box office hits on OTT turn into a blockbuster opportunity for advertisers?

Over-the-top (OTT) platform development has upended the conventional media and entertainment sectors, including the movie business. 

Streaming of theatrical movies enjoys higher "Buzz ratings"  than OTT originals and web series, according to the latest study by Ormax Media, a research and consulting firm.

"Buzz" gauges the percentage of the audience that unaidedly recalls when asked about recently launched or upcoming streaming properties. Ormax expanded its study in May to include the launch of theatrical films on OTT platforms for the first time.

In the six months, 23 instances were recorded where a theatrical film attained a Buzz rating of 20 percent or higher. This includes Gadar 2 (5 instances), OMG 2 (4 instances), Jailer (4 instances) and Adipurush (3 instances). Jawan, released on Netflix on November 2, garnered a launch-week Buzz of 53 percent, marking the highest achieved on OTT since The Family Man Season 2 in June 2021.

In contrast, only 11 instances were recorded during the same period where an OTT original achieved a Buzz rating of 20% or higher in any given week. This included JioCinema's Asur Season 2 (4 instances) and Netflix's Guns & Gulaabs (2 instances). 

Ormax's study noted how most of the 150 Hindi originals and web series launched in 2023 struggle to leave a lasting impression, often fading into obscurity within days of their launch, despite possessing commendable content.

Highlighting the reasons behind the low recall value of streaming original content, the study noted, “OTT content surge is occurring amidst a backdrop of intense sporting events spanning 3-4 months, including the IPL and the ongoing Cricket World Cup. Besides, approximately 5-6 new options every week adds to the challenge of keeping up with recent releases.”

Bollywood films on OTT have better recall value mainly due to the high familiarity factor, say experts. “Films are promoted heavily across channels including TV and Print for weeks. A lot of word-of-mouth publicity happens after release in theatres,” says Rajiv Dubey, Media head, Dabur India. 

Advertising opportunities? 

Although it's just an initial trend, experts weigh in on whether box-office hits on OTT could be the next big opportunity for advertisers.

“Films on OTT can open up new advertising avenues for brands who currently advertise on originals and web series with no clear insights of their reach. On the other hand, big-budget films with big star casts are most likely to attract a huge audience,” says Karan Taurani, Senior Vice President and Research Analyst of Elara Capital. 

Films’ premiere on OTT will be something the Advertisers will look forward to as an entertainment option, says Rajiv Singh, Country Head, Grab Ads-Indonesia, who has worked with SonyLiv and Disney Star in the past. 

At present, live sports programs receive the lion’s share of ad spends on OTT, industry leaders say. Originals and web series also attract ads on advertising-based video-on-demand (AVoD) platforms. However, big blockbuster movies are usually launched on subscription-based video-on-demand (SvoD) platforms, limiting their advertising potential. 

Dabur India, one of the leading FMCG firms, is investing a lot in World TV premieres of blockbuster movies to promote its brands. The brand is yet to leverage such opportunities on the OTT launch of the movies.

“Top streaming platforms are either SVoD or AvoD with a sports focus. So, advertising opportunities with the premiere of films on OTT are limited,” Dubey noted. 

Unless such films are launched on AVoD platforms, their advertising potential can’t be explored, some industry leaders feel. It is noteworthy that Netflix is likely to launch its AVoD platform in India. Amazon Prime Video also plans to dive into the AVoD model, introducing "limited" ads in 2024. 

Divya Dixit, Business Growth and Strategy Advisor, who worked with AltBalaji and SonyLiv in the past, has a different point of view. As per Dixit, releasing feature films on AvoD may not be a feasible option for OTT platforms. “Streaming services invest a huge sum buying big-budget films. They look at all revenue streams to monetise that content. Betting on advertising money to monetise such premium content may not be feasible for them unless it is JioCinema which has deep pockets.” 

Taurani begs to differ: “Advertisers won’t mind paying a premium for good content like big-budget blockbusters.”

Rajiv Singh points out that even if films are released under SVoD,  advertisers can do the premiere show advertising. “Brands can present the film like ‘this movie is brought to you by Samsung mobile’. Besides, with the help of technology, they can dynamically place products in the movies, which were not part of the theatre release. There are plenty of options available for advertisers on OTT, especially for the female target audience.”

Indian OTT market is currently at Rs 10,500 crore, including subscription revenues. “This is expected to touch Rs 12,000 crore by FY 2024 and Rs 30,000 crore in FY 2030 with a 20 per cent growth on a year-on-year basis”, Anup Chandrasekharan, Member, CII Dakshin Steering Committee & COO, IN 10 Media, said early this year.  

AVoD's market share is roughly 30 per cent, which is likely to go up to 40 per cent in the next 5 years, as per TAM’s projections. The biggest advantage that AVoD platforms enjoy over SVoD is the sheer availability of content across genres for audiences in all demographics and on almost all devices. This can be surely leveraged by big advertisers. 

Singh however suggests “pre-roll of ads” as a feasible business option for cinema advertising. “Instead of fully doing SVOD, the option should be on pre-roll of ads only to keep the premium-ness and also use other options to place products to increase the revenue model. Preroll should be sold like a spot in TV, which has more value versus traditional digital sales,” he explained.