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International OTT platforms yet to grab a massive Bangla market

OTT, Netflix, Zee5, HoiChoi, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Sony Liv, Eros Now, Ditto, SUN NXT, Voot, MX Player, ALT Balaji, BIGFlix, Ullu App, Sun NXT, YouTube Premium, TVF Play, EPOS Now, Jio Cinema, Airtel Xstream, Shemaroo, Viu, Discovery Plus, Bangladesh, Bangla, Bengali, Film

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International OTT platforms yet to grab a massive Bangla market

Currently there are dozens of international OTT (Over The Top) platforms in the world, which are enjoying grand popularity in South Asia and other parts of the continent. Until now, Netflix, Zee5, HoiChoi, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Sony Liv, Eros Now, Ditto, SUN NXT, Voot, MX Player, ALT Balaji, BIGFlix, Ullu App, Sun NXT, YouTube Premium, TVF Play, EPOS Now, Jio Cinema, Airtel Xstream, Shemaroo, Viu, and Discovery Plus are mostly having Hindi, Punjabi, Telegu, Tamil, Malayam and Bhojpuri contents, which Amazon Prime and Netflix are offering contents, mostly feature films and web series in English, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese, Korean etcetera (with multiple subtitles) to their subscribers. Although HoiChoi in particular has mostly Bangla (Bengali) contents, Zee5 too has included some Bangla contents while Netflix and Amazon are yet having only a hand-picked number of contents in Bangla. But, none of these OTT platforms, except HoiChoi are failing to realize the massive prospect of Bangla-speaking populace, which is over 270 million people, where at least 25 percent are their prospective subscribers. Most important point here is – for Bangla contents, OTT platforms should give preference on getting contents mainly from Bangladesh as story of Bangladeshi contents are preferred by Bangla-speaking population in India and the world. Moreover, the size of population in Bangladesh alone is over 180 million.

Why the international OTT platforms are yet to realize the importance and prospect of Bangla-speaking populace, is possibly an important question. As all of these platform’s key focus is increasing revenue from the subscribers, they should actually compete in entering this huge market.

Indian OTT platform Zee5 has been buying some Bangla contents from Bangladesh through its own vendor – a company which is neither a production company nor has its own production facilities such as studios etcetera. Few years ago, a sister organization of this vendor launched a production company, which fell flat just within couple of years because of high production cost. According to media circuit in Bangladesh, the vendor of Zee5 in Bangladesh actually is an affiliate company of a large advertising and market promotion company with huge establishment cost. Whatever budget Zee5 is providing its Bangladesh vendor for Bangla contents, at least 35-40 percent of the amount is cut as the vendor company’s establishment cost. Then on the remaining 60 percent of the budget, the vendor deducts 10-15 percent as its service charge and only 45-50 percent goes to the makers of the content. Meaning, because of massive slice in the amount of the budget, the quality of the OTT contents is automatically compromised. If such practice continues, Zee5 in one hand will lose money, while it will fail in catching attention of the prospective subscribers due to poor quality of the contents.

In Bangladesh, until now, India’s Kolkata-based OTT platform HoiChoi leads the show with huge selection of Bangla contents. Subscriber of this platform is increasing steadily. Netflix and Amazon Prime though have only a handpicked number of Bangla contents, those are again failing in gaining due attention because – most of these contents had already been run on television channels and other digital platforms.

Commenting on the prospect of the size of Bangla-speaking populace and international OTT platforms such as Netflix, Zee5, HoiChoi, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Sony Liv, Voot, MX Player, Eros Now, Ditto, SUN NXT, ALT Balaji, BIGFlix, Ullu App, Sun NXT, YouTube Premium, TVF Play, EPOS Now, Jio Cinema, Airtel Xstream, Shemaroo, Viu, and Discovery Plus, Tajul Islam, Deputy CEO of  Bangladesh’s leading production company and content provider, Crown Entertainment said: “Bangla is the seventh-largest language in the world, with over 270 million Bengali population in Bangladesh, India and the world. There are around one million Bengali workers in the Middle East while there also are millions of Bengali-speaking people in Britain, the US, European Union and other countries in the world. Certainly, this is a huge market for any of the international OTT platforms”.

He said “Crown Entertainment is the only production company and content provider in Bangladesh with our own post-production facilities, including modern dubbing studio. Moreover, we have our own camera units and soon we shall procure few more ARRI and RED cameras particularly for making contents for the OTT platforms. We are looking forward to providing various types of Bangla contents such as full length feature films, web series, web films and any other type of contents to the OTT platforms. If companies like Netflix, Zee5, HoiChoi, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Sony Liv, Voot, MX Player, ALT Balaji, BIGFlix, Ullu App, Sun NXT, YouTube Premium, TVF Play, EPOS Now, Jio Cinema, Airtel Xstream, Shemaroo, Viu, and Discovery Plus will look for the best source of getting Bangla contents from Bangladesh, they definitely will come to us”.

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Ronju Sarkar is a Staff Correspondent of Blitz

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