In the buzzing landscape of Indian streaming, Ormax Media has diligently curated an expansive database since 2018-19, helping us comprehend the evolution of the streaming category, particularly in the wake of the pandemic in 2020. Ormax Media has amassed a substantial dataset, and this report focuses on original content in streaming, scrutinising the top shows and films released in 2023 across Hindi and International languages. It only covers the viewing patterns in the North.
The report focuses on three major parameters: Viewership, Marketing Buzz, and Content Strength. The viewership estimates are derived through primary research conducted weekly among Indian audiences, and the sample size of this research hasn’t been disclosed. It exclusively concentrates on original content and excludes non-original material such as theatrical films, catch-up television, and sports.
A careful examination unveiled some intriguing trends, including, but not limited to the notable performance disparity between Netflix Original films and Netflix Original shows. The “buzz” score, measured on a 0-100 scale, gauges audience recall of the show. We are unpacking the report by juxtaposing this buzz against the Ormax Power Rating (OPR), a 0-100 scale that assesses viewer likability based on time spent on a show or film.
Farzi, starring Shahid Kapoor and Vijay Sethupathi, leaves its competition far behind, becoming the most-viewed Hindi web-series of last year with 37.1 million views. According to the report, it is “the only show to cross the 30 million viewership mark in 2023, and is now the most-watched SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) series in India of all time.” Farzi also topped Ormax’s scale for shows that generated maximum “buzz”, and also received a high OPR (Ormax Power Rating). The Night Manager, Asur S2, Taali, Aarya S3 and Scam 2003 - The Telgi Story also rank high in all these categories. Some shows, like The Railway Men, Guns & Gulaabs and Kaala Paani (all Netflix originals, incidentally), have high “buzz” scores and viewer ratings, but have curiously not made the most-watched list. Conversely, Made in Heaven S2, Mumbai Diaries S2 and Bambai Meri Jaan, which are among the most-viewed shows of last year, have seemingly not generated the same kind of buzz or positive feedback as other shows on the roster. Additionally, the absence of the popular Netflix thriller series Class on any of the charts is conspicuous.
Thematically, it appears that stories that deal in realism, showcase the struggles of everyday life and grapple with social issues — think Aspirants S2 or Dahaad — have been the most popular in 2023. As it is, filmmaker duo Raj and DK (Farzi, Guns & Gulaabs) and actor Sushmita Sen (Taali, Aarya S3) have had a solid year.
Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor’s Bawaal, which was criticised for its trivialisation of the Holocaust, is the most-watched direct-to-OTT Hindi film of 2023, followed closely by JioCinema’s Bloody Daddy starring Shahid Kapoor (another actor who has had a successful year on streaming). Bloody Daddy is also the most “buzz”-worthy film of 2023, while action-thriller Mission Majnu is the most-liked, based on Ormax’s viewer ratings. There is a good mix of genres topping the charts, particularly thrillers (Apurva, Gaslight, Jaane Jaan, Blind, Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai and Khufiya) and slice-of-life narratives like Tumse Na Ho Payega and Kho Gaye Hum Kahan. In fact, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’s position in both the most-viewed and most-buzzing categories is remarkable, given that it has been less than a month since the film’s release. Unsurprisingly, Zoya Akhtar's The Archies — which was the talk of the internet for weeks before and after its release — is also present in both categories. According to the report, many of Netflix’s original films (Jaane Jaan, The Archies, Lust Stories 2, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan, Khufiya and Kathal - A Jackfruit Mystery) have generated good reception.
In areas like unscripted Indian streaming shows, the Ormax report isn’t a revelation. It follows the expected patterns of reality TV, where Bigg Boss OTT Season 2 emerges as the undisputed leader with a staggering 19.5 million views. Following closely is Koffee with Karan, amassing 15.4 million views. The allure of Bigg Boss OTT lies in its 24/7 non-stop format, coupled with a daily one-hour episode, providing audiences with continuous engagement and a deeper, more intrusive experience.
This season's Koffee With Karan underlined its enduring popularity. The report also spotlights other reality shows like Temptation Island (13.5 million), Dance+ Pro (8.8 million), MasterChef India (7.3 million), and Indian Matchmaking S3 (6.3 million) confirming that that’s a wide market for all kinds of reality TV to thrive in the OTT space. Interestingly, the report features The Romantics (6.1 million), a docu-series discussing the legacy of Yash Chopra. While there are many reasons for its popularity — it focuses on one of Bollywood's most prominent filmmakers and features interviews with a star-studded cast — The Romantics stands out for its introspective and reflective conversations about the dreamy world of Hindi cinema. The top 10 list showcases a diversity within the non-fiction category (there are massy reality shows, documentaries, task-based competitions like Takeshi's Castle and more.) This points towards an expansion in the width of non-fiction content on OTT platforms compared to what it was a few years ago.
We are generous towards espionage-related plots (Extraction 2, Heart of Stone), documentation of our favourite K-pop band BTS (BTS Yet to Come), and stories where a president’s son and a British prince fall in love (Red, White and Royal Blue, of course).
We also love our biographies (Air: Courting a Legend), and we can attest to the fact that some of the most resonating superhero storytelling is in the animated format, and not live-action (Merry Little Batman). The viewership of these films range from 9.8 million views (Extraction 2), to 5.1 million views (SUGA: Road to D-Day), almost half of what Hindi films garner on OTT platforms. Several Prime Video films made it into this list, including Air; Red, White and Royal Blue and Merry Little Batman. Netflix, with its predictable winning streak with films, saw two of its films in the top 2: Extraction 2 and Heart of Stone (it got 8.5 million views). Extraction 2 also ranked higher in what created buzz, as well as what was considered ‘likeable” by the audiences. It was followed by Air…, and The Killer on the likability list.
The predictable pull of franchise shows, especially Marvel Cinematic Universe, was confirmed through the report: The shows that ranked higher in terms of viewership, likability as well as the buzz they created were: Citadel, Loki 2, What if…?, I am Groot Season 2, Secret Invasion and the Season 4 of Jack Ryan, among others. Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Richard Madden starring Citadel clocked in the highest number of views (17 million), and it also ranked at the top in the buzz that followed after its release, despite being critically panned. But it is the liability rank where it sunk considerably lower: it was at number nine. The first on the likability score was Loki season 2, which ranked 11th on the most watched list with 7.6 million views. These shows also garnered half of what Hindi language shows claim on this platform, with the viewership range of 17 million views to 7 million views. But they still amass almost double the viewership of English films directly released there.
Compared to the Ormax Streaming report for 2022, the viewership numbers for this year have not moved in any tangible, significant direction. For example, the most viewed show is still within the range of 30-40 million views, and the most viewed film is still within the range of 20-30 million views.
A few structural changes have taken place, however. But the exit of MX Player and the introduction of Jio Cinema, for example, have done little to alter the overall viewership patterns for streaming shows and movies, distributing the existing viewership among existing platforms.
The introduction of “Unscripted Shows” as a category in the report, however, shows a sudden interest — of the audience, of the streamers — in shows like Big Boss, Koffee With Karan, AP Dhillon: First Of A Kind, and The Romantics.