Indian Entertainment industry braces for heavy losses amid COVID-19 lockdown
In the aftermath of the nationwide lockdown in India due to Coronavirus pandemic, film/television shootings have been stalled, theatres are shut and no promotional events are taking place. Release of many Bollywood films including Ranveer Singh-starrer ’83 and Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi and Hollywood films has been postponed.
Being the largest producer of movies, the Indian film industry alone was valued at over Rs 180 billion in the fiscal year 2019. However, trade analysts and experts are stating that the entertainment industry has already incurred losses over Rs 1000 crore with celebrities and daily wage workers sitting at home.
It certainly takes a whole village to shoot a film or television show or even a commercial. Since shooting and production of film/television content have been suspended, Bollywood‘s struggling actors and daily wage earners including hair-makeup artists, cameramen, assistant directors, are in deep crisis. Amid the pandemic struggle, they are fighting their own battles to survive in the city of dreams. And not just Bollywood, actors and workers across the entire entertainment industry of the country including television, Tollywood, and Pollywood are at risk as the country grapples the Coronavirus pandemic.
While celebrities and film associations such as Producers Guild have announced relief measures for daily-wage earners affected by the halt in productions, there is still much more needed to be done to help them in crisis. Bollywood actor Salman Khan has also pledged to financially support thousands of daily wage workers of Bollywood. With the help of the Cine and TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA), other Bollywood actors also came forward to help the daily wage labourers of the entertainment industry.
Due to the shutdown(of more than 30 days now), the Indian entertainment industry is staring at more losses if the nationwide lockdown is extended. The numbers of losses are even worse for regional cinema. While some of the producers are assessing the possibilities of moving the movie release direct-to-digital, theatre business will suffer and box-office validation will be lacking in such crucial moves.According to industry estimates, cinema halls and theatre companies are also expecting to lose about 35% revenue which is a whopping Rs 4,000 crore worth box office collection in 2020 with film releases postponed.
Notably, at a time when the film industry is severely suffering due to closure of theatres and production, television and OTT (over-the-top) medium has seen a sharp rise in viewership amid the lockdown. According to reports, major players in the OTT medium (Voot, Alt Balaji, Zee5) are witnessing a rise in viewership (somewhere between 75% to 150%) as compared to the pre-lockdown period. India’s television consumption has also increased sharply after the lockdown, with 37% (the highest ever) in the starting March 21. During the same period, average daily viewers also increased to over 60 million. Most of these Hindi General Entertainment channels are currently banking on reruns of old shows, due to the lack of fresh content as shooting has been halted.
Meanwhile, the Indian entertainment industry stakeholders are working towards an action plan for functioning in the post-lockdown period. Cinema halls in the country may not even start business until June end if the pandemic scare prevails.