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Hits and misses of OTT

Recently, I joined the OTT (over-the-top) bandwagon with my first streaming device. Never did I think I would have to navigate through a multitude of choices and make tens of decisions to finally enjoy an hour of undisrupted entertainment.

New concepts have emerged on how we define, enjoy, or watch content. The on-demand model based on choice and convenience implies we have better control over when, where and what we decide to see.

And while I appreciate so many choices in, and control on, content, language, pace and so on, it has increasingly become a laborious process. Instead of audience, we have become consumers. Our entertainment choices are now based on concrete notions of productivity and utility, instead of abstractions such as togetherness and collective enjoyment. Convenience and portability offered by OTT platforms have removed the act of watching from its social context and made it a solo, individualistic activity. Instead of appreciating the narrative, we absorb content as a never-ending trail of commodities.

However, there is one area where credit is due. OTT platforms have democratised content. It shows stories that are unconventional and sometimes, not very palatable for TV or theatre audience. But while they might be free from pre-censorship, commercial motivations have led to proliferation of content without offering any radical choice. What is disconcerting is that the increasing use of violence and expletives is often conflated with “richness”, “novelty” and “modernity”.

Until now, OTT has acted as technologically empowered marvels in a marketplace independent of social worries. But their potential to create a long-lasting impact on the minds of audiences leads to a question: will “de-socialised” entertainment be able to realise it has obligations to society?

tanvisoni71@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 11:13:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/hits-and-misses-of-ott/article32935986.ece

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