By Nitin Jai Shukla
Local is the new global. The current geopolitical situation in India has an impact on all industries. The ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ push introduced by the Indian government has created a lot of awareness in realising the power of the local market.
Over-the-top (OTT) is no different. Regional television content that is very much hyperlocal was always popular. Hence, there are many regional satellite channels of all major media companies.Now Netflix has announced that they will be producing more regional content apart from Hindi to reach out to a bigger audience base. The behaviour pattern is now shifting. And one needs to understand the psychology behind this change.
The current content viewing trend is narrowing down to single viewership. It’s no longer a household viewership. The youth no longer sits with the family and watches content. However, India is still a nation of single TV set households. The content viewership is shifting base from TV to mobile phones. The women of the house with working men would prefer to watch content of their choice on the phone.
As a result, viewers want to watch what they like and have grown up watching. Remember, OTT is a paid and free content viewing. So, a certain age and decision-making power are vital factors to be considered. When viewers have the decision-making power and want to watch it alone, they prefer to watch content in their language and the environment they can relate to.
Essentially, all these consumers have not travelled away from their states. The only access that they have to other cultures is via content viewing. While one would want to explore different cultures and languages, we are more comfortable with our language. So ultimately, it comes to the convenience which we all want. Content viewing is no different. Hence there is an impact of regional content on the OTT segment.
When Hoichoi started their OTT in Bengali, they wanted to create the Netflix of Bengali. We can say that they were the ‘OG Risk Takers’. In my opinion, they knew the market well. A base for Bengali content is present and world-class content that a Bengali-speaking consumer can be proud of. If he has seen content in Spanish dubbed or subtitled, then the expectation is ‘Why can’t I see the same content in my language’. Hoichoi did that for them.
The success story of many other regional OTT platforms is noticeable from every corner of the country. One can see many regional OTT players coming into the market. The rise of these OTT platforms is giving a run for the money to the big OTT platforms with generic content. An Amazon India executive has said that Hindi is just another language for them on the platform. They (Amazon India) have content in major Indian languages. They are also spending the same amount of time and effort on the Tamil and Telugu content the way they are doing for the Hindi web series. A year later, we can now see that they have a better reach in the regional market.
AHA Telugu is growing fast, while AHA Tamil is their new offering. They plan to grow in other south Indian markets as well. Oho Gujarati and Shemaroo Gujarati are other OTT platforms competing in the Gujarati market. Planet Marathi is another platform that has captured the imagination of the Marathi-speaking market. There are two more Marathi OTT which are about to be launched. The market size is so huge that even if one OTT platform captures its language audience, it can be successful. The pie is so huge that it will have space for a couple of regional players in the OTT universe.
Ultimately, everything will come down to the content strategy and the kind of content offered. Creating more relatable content and understanding the market’s pulse is not a big task compared to PAN India or the international approach. As there is a history of viewership and data available, platforms know what their audience likes and has a taste for. One can figure out content with less risk of experimenting with the genre.
Regional content is here to stay and will have an impact in the coming years on the OTT market. The shift in consumer behaviour and regional waves will hit all OTT platforms. Everyone is gearing up for the same. Going local will be going global.
The author is founder and MD of OMTV. Views expressed are personal.