In an interview with BusinessLine, Shailesh Kapoor, Founder & CEO, Ormax Media spoke on expectations of a strong theatrical resurgence, OTT growth trends and the impact of the pandemic on single-screen cinemas in the country.
By when do you anticipate multiplexes to get back to pre-Covid levels in terms of revenues?
When the exhibition business gets back to pre-Covid level is a function of how the vaccination plan pans out over the next few months.
It is safe to say that pre-Covid levels won’t be restored till at least mid-2021. But it’s a bit early to put an exact time frame to it. But one thing is certain.
Theatrical audience are very keen to be back, and we can expect a huge resurgence in theatrical demand as and when normalcy is restored.
Do you anticipate the strong growth momentum witnessed by OTT segment in 2020 to sustain in 2021?
The adoption of OTT apps has been a growing trend for the last 2-3 years, but in 2020, there has been an extraordinary surge due to the pandemic-included lockdown, especially in the older (30+ years) audience group and the small towns.
This trend will sustain through 2021, but obviously not at the level of 2020, where the growth is estimated to be as high as 35-40 per cent.
One of the key challenges that can impede the growth in smaller towns is the widespread piracy of SVOD content.
What are the other key trends that have disrupted the sector in this pandemic year and expected to have a long-term impact?
There are unlikely to be any major long-term impact. We have seen that already with television, where the viewership of various genres today is not very different from the pre-Covid levels. As normalcy restores, old habits and audience behaviour will set in too. Of course, OTT consumption will keep growing with time, but one doesn’t expect too much else to change permanently.
One of the concerns is whether many single screens have shut down permanently in India, and how that will reduce India’s theatrical reach in the long run.
This is a realistic worry, but since not many big films have released yet, it is difficult to put a number on how many single screens will not reopen at all, and what will the impact on the theatrical business in the long run. Early 2021 should give a better indication.
What kind of measures the policymakers can take especially in the upcoming budget to fuel the growth of the media and entertainment industry?
While one can hope for measures such as tax rebates, the government has a bigger challenge at hand, which involves getting the entire economy back on its feet again.
It is unlikely that the M&E sector will find any major focus in the next budget in this context.