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Op-Ed: OTT, Netflix and Home Learning

Written by - Clyde D'souza

Binge watching to a better future:

As part of home schooling, EDD and I binge watched Season 1 of Mars, on Netflix. We did the whole season in one sitting! I’m envious and fascinated at the same time. Envious, because EDD is learning science in a way I could only wish for back in the day. (VHS tapes and CD roms could only go so far)

This is akin to an advanced course in Space Exploration on an unprecedented level. Well done! National Geographic, for a perfect blend of hard science and narrative storytelling. It made me think…

With a big Subscriber base… comes bigger responsibility:

I say this because many OTT platforms (at least in India) aping the Netflix success story, seem to think sleaze and loosely researched material with an “episodic” wrapper is all that’s needed to become a Streaming Platform success story.

Audiences don’t know any better of-course. Cater to the carnal fantasies of the nouveau-riche and there’s money to be made. To be fair, some content does stand out — most are history / biography based topics. What is missing is forward-thinking content aimed at accelerating thought in a nation that’s otherwise easily influenced and runs on emotions.

I’ve been saying this for the past couple of years when speaking at events. Today, it came true. Half way through one of the episodes of MARS, EDD’s eyes lit up when he recognized the near-similar, all white Mars Rover he’d seen a couple of months ago in the well-done Felix & Paul VR piece — Space Explorers I’d made an exception to the rule; allowing EDD to watch stereoscopic VR only because it was well done and the feeling of ‘presence’ was high inside the Rover craft. Sidenote: I prefer kids under 10–12, watch monoscopic content in a VR headset.

What’s interesting is how it’s natural for an 8 year old to reach out and grab the Oculus Go — our second screen — and live the moment from a first person POV…

…of a scene he was watching on a flat screen TV. This is Immersive Education at it’s finest moment.

It cements my belief why OTT platforms will be in a race to create Immersive Media pieces tied in to their original content, both factual and fiction, allowing audiences to live the stories they’re watching.

(Above: On an Oculus GO headset, the first person POV in VR of Felix and Paul’s Space Explorers takes immersion to another level when watching the Nat Geo produced OTT series: “MARS” )

We are a Space Faring Species:

It’s well known that America’s Space race was fueled by the Cold war. However, there’s no denying, it is American storytelling that reminds its people, there’s a bigger purpose in life to aspire to. This is an Op-ed, so it needs to be said:

In India, while Space prowess might be driven to prove a point to its neighbors, hopefully the momentum stays, and goes beyond being a contest for political mileage. Earlier, it was American comic books and television — today the onus is with its “Originals” (as they’re called in OTT circles), that drives the aspirations of its citizens and upcoming generation.

It’s now India’s turn with its OTT originals to inculcate a scientific mindset and higher order thinking in people. With big audience subscriptions…comes bigger responsibility.

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