Mirror, mirror, on the wall… Will this content work at all?
This fortnight, we interviewed the most sought after modern day soothsayer Shailesh Kapoor of Ormax Media, whose job it is to predict whether video content will work or not. The way ‘share-ability’ is the most important thing for all kinds of online content, ‘social advocacy’ is the hallowed index for video content across OTT platforms, movies and TV. That is essentially the ‘word of mouth’ value a piece of video content commands. Social advocacy is how video content is discovered. The only question content creators ought to ask themselves is – “After watching this, will people tell their friends to watch it?” It’s as simple as that. If only making ‘recommendable’ content was just as easy.
I spoke to Shailesh about the psychology of the Indian ‘video consumer’. What do Indians want to watch? What kind of content will work in the days ahead? One of the most interesting takeaways from my chat with him was – today, the nature of video-on-demand content is determined more by the sensibilities of the people making it than by the preferences of the people watching it. That’s partly why a lot of the content on OTT platforms tends to be dark, both metaphorically (edgy, disturbing, violent) and literally (low on brightness, light). Film makers experience a sense of liberation when they craft OTT content because the platform affords freedom of the kind our censorship-plagued feature film canvas doesn’t.
Speaking of liberation, the ‘OTT watcher’ in India also experiences a rare sense of freedom while consuming content on these platforms, because it is, by design, a solo viewing experience. In India, video content consumption has, traditionally, been either a ‘family activity’ (television) or a community event (movies in theatres). OTT has changed that. Consequently, the appetite for dark, intense content has developed. Shailesh cautions against overdoing this kind of content: “OTT needs more variety…”