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Digital Governance: The impact of regulation on OTT and digital content

Anant Roongta, Managing Director, Famous Studios, writes that the new digital media regulations should be tweaked so that they do not hamper creativity

Anant Roongta

As the world progresses digitally, the means of content consumption have drastically evolved. With the advent of high-fibre internet and affordable devices, content consumption has taken centre stage. This has played a pivotal role in the creation of immersive OTT content that holds the audience’s attention to the platform. Moreover, several subscription-based OTT players such as Amazon Prime, Netflix and Disney+Hotstar have created mobile-only subscription plans to improve accessibility, ensure feasibility and lure the user.

The OTT platforms’ approach for a more personalised and engaging experience is to create content that is very earthy, realistic and gripping; for instance the likes of Sacred Games, The Family Man, Shaadisthan, etc. Being a digital medium, OTT platforms are granted a much greater creative freedom to release content catering to various ages, genres and audiences alike. Interestingly, given the pandemic situation where people are largely indoors and have more time to consume content, the OTT format has come to the forefront and is the way forward for the entertainment industry, now that going to the cinemas is hardly an option for the audiences.


The rise of diversity in content

From regional to international, from suspense thrillers to horror comedies, the multi-lingual and diverse content roster provides an upper hand to the OTT platforms in showcasing content that the audience demands. Previously, there were only independent players creating powerful content that resonated with the audience. Players such as TVF have mastered the art of storytelling with their popular shows like Permanent Roommates, Pitchers, etc. In order to ride the OTT wave, quite a few broadcasters launched their own OTT arms. What was lacking here back then was that the content on a broadcaster’s OTT platform was more of what’s already available on TV. Then came ‘The Originals’, which changed the entire film-making dynamics.


OTT platforms were the only place where writers, producers and film makers got the opportunity to experiment with storytelling and explore the full potential of a script, giving us, the audience, a plethora of content that could never see the light of day on the big screen. Today, the OTT space is full of content that is varied and multilingual, giving the audience a chance to experience stories like never before.

OTT reshaping perceptions

OTT has taken centre stage with state-of-the-art web series. The pandemic forced producers and film makers to release their films on OTT platforms to make up for the lack of cinema halls in 2020. Disney+ Hotstar’s VIP access gave users an opportunity to experience cinema of the highest quality sitting at home, giving rise to a new wave altogether. Today, quite a few movies are released on such platforms for people to experience cinema from the comfort of their homes. Producers and film makers have more opportunities than ever before, as the audience is not looking for just commercial masala movies, but instead they are looking for a compelling story that makes them think. This has reshaped the perception of film studios and producers to create content that explores the true potential of pure storytelling without any obstacles.

The impact of new regulations on OTT content


Since OTT was an unregulated space, it gave rise to experimental content that created a niche for itself. But, it also gave rise to content that exploited the freedom of creativity, violating the norms of our culture and not setting the right example for the section of audience that is impressionable. Thus, in February 2021, the government released the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021. The regulations have come into effect to curtail content that is problematic in nature, empower viewers to make informed choices, and create a fair playing field for other mediums. While every decision has its pros and cons, it is important to retain the essence and the authenticity of streaming services. An extended runtime for a series offers a greater opportunity to explore the depth of story, characters and direction. The kind of storytelling opportunities OTT platforms provide is extremely profound and differs from that of other platforms, which is why we are in favour of the restrictions being tweaked as per the medium so as to not hamper creativity.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

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