When is the last time you’ve switched on the Television or obsessed about getting home in time for your favourite 6 PM show? Does that seem mildly odd? While TV did have a special charm about it, OTT has changed how shows are perceived. A ‘showtime’ and an ‘oh crap I’ve missed my movie’ don’t have any meaning these days. Everything has a re-run and if you miss out on your show, you can always just tune in again. OTT has managed to steal the thunder of Television, more so during the pandemic. This brings us to the impending question:
Are we the last generation that will watch TV?
Advertisements are a factor why people prefer OTT over TV
Shrishti, a VFX artist who spends her weekends binge-watching Asian and Korean dramas, says her favouritism towards Netflix is because all these dramas are available with subtitles, and the cherry on the top is that there aren’t any ads.
“Rom-coms are my favourite genre and Netflix has these available in multiple languages.”
Malhar Wakde, a writer-director who has worked on short films, and has now scripted his very own film, says TV is not struggling as of the present moment, but there will be a point when this happens. “People do not have time for intervals or breaks. TV does not give you the leisure to watch when you are free, and cinema certainly does not. A generation that was loyal to TV have started to drift towards OTT.”
OTT is more convenient and thus garners more attention than TV
Niall Reynolds, a 22-year-old who absolutely loves OTT flicks, says the reason for this is convenience and choice. “Convenience, because I can watch Netflix from my room, or while travelling, without any effort. On the contrary, TV can be watched only if you are home, and that too, in a particular room. Choice because obviously! Netflix has a variety of shows. New flicks are introduced every other week. On TV, it’s mostly a repetition of the same movies.”
Shrishti too resonates the same opinion. “I don’t have to wait for the next episode until the next week or the next day. I can finish a whole season in a day and start with a new season or a whole new series altogether.”
Are we the last generation that will watch TV?
“Looking at the rate of Netflix accounts in my friend circles and family, the answer to this would be yes. Today’s generation is born in the era of technical development. They do not like waiting for something that they are eager to watch,” says Shrishti.
Charles Britto, pursuing Visual Studies at JNU and a movie buff, says though he agrees to the fact that we may be the last generation that ever tunes in to TV, it isn’t that simple. “TVs today are becoming Smart TVs, and the line between TV and OTT is blurring fast. In time to come, Television will adapt according to the needs of its viewers. The process has already started.”
TV could certainly borrow a few learnings from OTT, says Niall. “If TV really does wish to make a comeback, it should cater to the needs of the present generation. For one thing, apps are becoming increasingly popular. Maybe TV can in a way try and maintain an online presence. In addition to this, a variety of shows and movies to choose from would be a welcome change.”
“The reason why people love Netflix and other OTT platforms like Amazon Prime is that they offer them suggestions like ‘You might like this’. Maybe TV could do the same.”
Malhar is of the opinion though, that TV is something that will always be there. “People may begin to move towards OTT. But another unprecedented move for TV to establish itself in households once more would be for it to start adopting great content from the West. For instance, the movies of the 80s and 90s had a special magic about them. If TV could bring that back in a way, there’s nothing like it. Having said so, television will never get lost in the track of time.”
How can directors change their approach to ensure their films of TV do well?
We can’t tell if it will take a revolution of sorts for people to switch back to TV from OTT. But perhaps it is time for directors and producers of mainstream cinema to change their styles in filmmaking, so as to get their movies some traction on TV. Shrishti says the scene will change if writers and directors of mainstream cinema are given more creative freedom. “Often, shows on Netflix or other OTT platforms are unfiltered but the story and content are too good. You don’t get to see that kind of content on TV - where you usually find the typical housewife shows and too much drama.”
Mainstream film directors aren’t that privileged, says Malhar. “For one, they do not have the freedom to go all out with ideas, as everything is censored. For another, they are sometimes unaware of how to approach OTT platforms in order to have their films premiered or aired there. Some directors prefer TV, as all they have to do is give the channel the rights, and then the movie is screened. OTT has an end number of clauses. The filmmaking style will eventually evolve, for sure.”
An upcoming trend is TV channels slowly adapting to OTT with their own streaming sites. Charles highlights the fact that we live in a transition phase, which is happening right before our eyes. “TV is still predominant in many households and at the same time, OTT platforms are rapidly growing with increasing the number of mobile phone users. For small-time directors, OTT has really helped to find their audience and with respect to producers, it depends on the scale and budget of the film.”