Regional rules digital waves

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Regional rules digital waves

Thursday, 24 June 2021 | Pioneer

Anant Roongta says that localised content has been taking centre stage on OTT platforms

As the diversity in content takes centre stage, OTT as an industry has reached new heights. For the global entertainment scene, the past year has been a mixed bag. After rigorous turmoil, the industry partially got back on its feet because of the rise of OTT consumption. With the advent of work from home culture, coupled with outdoor restriction, streaming platforms witnessed a jump in subscription revenue. Interestingly, after a few years of launch, OTT platforms reached a new level of subscription revenue when compared to the broadcast industry which took years to gain the current levels. This, in turn, has provided an opportunity to not only experiment with content but also create something that resonates with the audience.

Wider growth

With hyperactive internet users and increased internet penetration in the country, studios and platforms are creating storylines inspired by people’s behaviour in the region. The notable thing here is that the content is either dubbed in multiple languages with the scripts and references that make people connect with a show across the country or it is created for a specific region. A good example of that would be MX Player’s Samantar that has a suspenseful storyline that any Maharashtrian could relate to. Such regional content is especially consumed in the native areas of the country amidst the digital progression and easy availability of smartphones at an affordable price.

Regional content creation has its advantages, an immersive storyline could potentially be created at 30-40 per cent lower cost with larger viewership. Consumption of regional content is expected to double, with over a billion of the population having a smartphone by the next decade. Currently, streaming services have more subscribers than people with a cable connection. As per a report by FICCI, regional languages will make up 60 per cent of television consumption by 2025 from around 55 per cent in 2020 and around 50 per cent of streaming video consumption from 30 per cent in 2019. Keeping the demand for regional content in mind, big media platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, Hotstar and Voot are keen on producing regional content for the masses.

Scope

Regional markets have a lot of potential and scope in the future because many of them are underserved, which means there’s room for growth. Due to the increase in demand, marketers have realised that simply dubbing Hindi or English advertising into local languages will no longer suffice, therefore they have started including modest local language additions to their ads or are attempting to compose local language scripts in English. With digital platforms making significant progress in terms of content creation — as they seek new methods to thrill their audiences — local material will receive a significant boost, which will benefit regional cinema greatly.

Future of the digital era

The consumption of digital content has unquestionably expanded dramatically over time. People have been riveted to the screen for Marathi comedy, south-Indian action, Bengali crime thrillers, and romantic narratives in all languages, and OTT platforms have recently discovered that regional shows are attracting the most viewers. The consumption of regional material is expected to increase in the next few years, particularly on streaming platforms, as non-metro audiences continue to lead internet user growth.

(The author is managing director of a film studio which was set up in 1946.)

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