Going to the theatre was always about movies. Television was about fiction or reality shows. Documentaries were on the fringe, often restricted to festivals. You heard of them at the Oscars, but did not know where to watch them. Online streaming changed that. Now, documentaries like The Last Dance, Fyre, American Factory, Wild Wild Country, Miss Americana and Homecoming are part of the zeitgeist. OTT made documentaries available anytime, anywhere.
From being perceived as academic, the narrative was now like that of a movie or a fictional series. And that captured everyone’s imaginations. Awards are only a further testament. Since 2016, Netflix documentary American Factory (2019), won an Oscar and the same year, Our Planet won an Emmy, and Homecoming won a Grammy.
The Last Dance got the world talking about Jordan. ESPN revealed it as the most-watched documentary in its history. On Netflix, 23.8 million households outside the US saw it in its first 4 weeks. It made it into the top 10 list in countries across the world. In many places, it’s still in top 10, nearly a month after its launch.
As per the data released by Netflix, Documentary viewing grew more than 100% in 2020 over 2019, and Bad Boy Billionaires, The Social Dilemma and Money Heist: The Phenomenon were the most popular documentaries on Netflix in India this year.
Bad Boy Billionaires focuses on the lives of four prominent business magnates of India, including Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Subrata Roy and Ramalinga Raju, who achieved predominant success in their businesses during their lifetime before being accused of corruption.
The Social Dilemma explores the rise of social media and the damage it has caused, the exploitation and manipulation of its users for financial gain through surveillance capitalism and data mining.
Money Heist: The Phenomenon, on the other hand, tries to discover the sensation Money Heist became across the globe.
Likewise, Amazon Prime Video recently released docuseries, Sons of the Soil: Jaipur Pink Panthers which takes the audience on the gritting journey of the team in the seventh season of Pro Kabaddi League. Produced by BBC Studios India, the show follows the team’s inspiring journey as it strives to win the season championship for the second time, after their win in the first season of the league. The series provides a never–before-seen locker-room view of the team including interactions with team owner Abhishek Bachchan. Viewers get a personal account of the struggles, determination, courage, hard work and passion of the team as well as their families, coaches and everyone associated with the Jaipur Pink Panther family.