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How Regional Language Content Impacts OTT

By Nitin Jai Shukla

The local is the new global. The current geopolitical situation in India is impacting all industries. The ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ push introduced by the Indian government has created a great awareness in the awareness of the power of the local market.

Over-the-top (OTT) is no different. Very hyperlocal regional television content has always been popular. Therefore, there are many regional satellite channels from all major media companies. Now, Netflix has announced that it will produce more regional content outside of Hindi to reach a wider audience. The behavior pattern is now changing. And you have to understand the psychology behind this change.

The current content viewing trend is narrowing down to a single audience. It is no longer a domestic audience. The young person no longer sits with the family and watches content. However, India is still a nation of one-TV homes. The content audience is shifting from television to mobile phones. Women in the house with working men would prefer to watch whatever content they want on the phone.

As a result, viewers want to watch what they love and grew up watching. Remember, OTT is paid and free content viewing. Thus, a certain age and a certain decision-making power are essential factors to take into account. When viewers have decision-making power and want to watch it on their own, they prefer to watch content in their language and in the environment they can relate to.

Essentially, all of these consumers have not left their state. The only access they have to other cultures is through viewing content. While we would like to explore different cultures and languages, we are more comfortable with our language. So, at the end of the day, it’s about the convenience we all want. Content display is no different. So there is an impact of regional content on the OTT segment.

When Hoichoi launched their OTT in Bengali, they wanted to create the Netflix of Bengali. You could say they were the “OG Risk Takers”. In my opinion, they knew the market well. A foundation for Bengali content is present, world-class content that a Bengali-speaking consumer can be proud of. If he saw Spanish dubbed or subtitled content, then the expectation is “Why can’t I see the same content in my language”. Hoichoi did this for them.

The success of many other regional OTT platforms can be seen across the country. Many regional OTT players can be seen entering the market. The rise of these OTT platforms is giving the big generic content OTT platforms a hard time. An Amazon India executive said Hindi was just another language for them on the platform. They (Amazon India) have content in major Indian languages. They also devote the same time and effort to Tamil and Telugu content as they do to 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 rapidly, while AHA Tamil is their newest offering. They also plan to expand into other South Indian markets. Oho Gujarati and Shemaroo Gujarati are other competing OTT platforms in the Gujarati market. Planet Marathi is another platform that has captured the imagination of the Marathi speaking market. There are two more Marathi OTTs that are about to be launched. The market size is so huge that even if an OTT platform captures its language audience, it can be successful. The pie is so huge that there will be room for a few regional players in the OTT universe.

Ultimately, it all comes down to content strategy and the type of content being offered. Creating more relevant content and understanding the pulse of the market is not a big task compared to PAN India or the international approach. Since there is a history of audience and data available, platforms know what their audience likes and tastes. Content can be found with less risk of experimenting with the genre.

Regional content is here to stay and will impact the OTT market for years to come. Changing consumer behavior and regional waves will affect all OTT platforms. Everyone is preparing for the same thing. Going local will go global.

The author is founder and CEO of OMTV. The opinions expressed are personal.

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