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Regional flavours of OTT and what it means for Established Players

The Over-The-Top (OTT) media services sphere continues to grow at a rapid rate. Smartphone technology is on the rise, and owning a smartphone has become much more affordable than it once was. Affordable smartphones, and data-laden packages at cheap rates, has led to a larger audience buying into the OTT media services viewing experience.

     According to ABI Research, the OTT media services market across the world, will continue to grow at a substantial pace, surging at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10% through 2022 – generating a massive turnover of $51.4 Billion. New movies and shows are churned out regularly, and it is of no surprise that the time spent on video streaming apps has risen by 140% in 2019, in countries such as India, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, and Indonesia.

     People are buying into OTT media services, of which a large percent prefer regional content. Regional content appeases the mind and soul, and evokes a sense of belonging. Regional flavours of OTT media services are on the rise, and several players are cashing in, including established players like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

India’s OTT Media Services Stratum

     According to a report published by PwC, India’s OTT media services sphere is projected to grow at a rapid CAGR of 21.8% through 2023 – from 4464 Crore in 2018, to 11976 Crore in 2023.

     According to Google, of the content consumed on YouTube in India, 97% is in regional languages. The report also stated that 60% of India’s YouTube viewing happens outside the six major metro areas in the country.

     According to a survey published by YouGov, 72% of people in India prefer watching videos in languages other than the ones that they know! Only 24% Indians like dubbed content, and they prefer subtitles for foreign language shows.

     The report also stated that 82% South Indians prefer subtitle content, while North Indians and East Indians are twice more likely than South Indians to prefer dubbed versions of content.

Gender-wise break up too throws up an interesting factor. Four-fifths of India’s overall OTT media services base consists of men, which is in sharp contrast to India’s traditional television audience, which is in turn dominated by women. 

     At the moment, the Indian video streaming audience stands at roughly 300 million. This number is expected to grow – over 550 million Indians might find themselves streaming content on OTT media services platforms, come 2023. A plethora of regional variety needs catering to.

     OTT media service players are stepping up to the task, and several major players, like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar are introducing movies and shows in regional languages, and dubbed content. New players too, sensing an opportunity to foray into the OTT media stratum, have launched platforms of their own.

Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hotstar

     Major players like Netflix and Amazon Prime are hiring writers to add contextual flavour to dialogues cast in English. In the end, reaching a larger audience suffices the purpose of any revenue-based model. Interestingly, Netflix’s greatest traction in March, 2019 was among older female viewers, in the 35+ age group.

According to a Netflix Spokesperson,

“Currently, our original content from India is largely in Hindi, but we are also licensing films in various regional languages. We have a couple of Marathi original films including Firebrand and 15 August.

Our members have access to local content in several languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Sikkimese, Urdu and Punjabi.”

     Following the success of the Sacred Games series, Netflix is already working on developing local content, with more than nine series and 13 films in development. India is a huge market, and Netflix has its eyes set on becoming the primary player in the Indian OTT media services market. 

     Hotstar Specials has dubbed popular shows like City of Dreams, and Criminal Justice in six regional languages – Marathi, Malayalam, Bangla, Kannada, Telugu, and Tamil. Amazon Prime has dubbed popular Hindi Originals like Breathe, and Inside Edge into Telugu and Tamil.

    Not one to be left behind, Amazon Prime too, is planning on producing content in regional languages, over the next few years. Following the success of its own productions like Comicstaan and Mirzapur, Amazon Prime realizes that catering to the needs of its rising membership in smaller regions and towns is crucial to its success.

     There are several other smaller players, which have created a niche of their own in the OTT media services market.

Nirvana Digital

     Catering to the needs of a growing audience is the mark of a company on the rise, and that is exactly what Nirvana Digital has done.

According to Manu Kaushik, the Co-Founder of Nirvana Digital –

“We have signed deals with regional content players in regional languages like Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Punjabi to boost our content base since we know that our viewers are thirsty for this content.

We are being constantly approached by new content owners who want us to build their presence and eventually include their content into our OTT verticals.”

Simply South

     Simply South is a regional app that has cashed in on the void left open by mainstream players. Simply South has over 650 movies, in three regional languages. Some of these movies data back to the 1950s.

According to Anish Wadhwa, the Founder of Simply South –

“There is no platform dedicated to providing only south Indian content so we thought we might cash in on our strength,”

TarangPlus

     Odisha Television Ltd. has launched TarangPlus, Odisha’s first OTT media services platform. As is the case with most OTT media service providers, the platform comes with an ad-supported free content option, and a premium package.

     TarangPlus’s premium package is available at 365 INR annually, and includes streaming of Odisha TV, Tarang TV, Alankar TV, Prarthana TV, and Tarang Music. What’s more, premium users will also get early access to serials, movie trailers, HD movies and original web series, among more exciting features.

     Unfortunately, free users will only have access to Odisha TV.

ETV Win

     Eenadu Television is another player who has ventured into the OTT media services market. Eenadu Television has launched ETV Win, and offers the streaming of all content available on the ETV network, on a single platform. ETV Win offers five HD channels, seven SD channels, live and recorded events, as well as movies; all of which are streamed in Telugu.

     ETV Win’s premium package will allow access to premium content, available on the platform from time to time. The platform has content restrictions based on geographical locations, and is not available in all countries.

Conclusion

     In order to attract and deflect larger audiences from the television viewing experience, to the OTT media services sphere, catering to their needs is essential. In a country dominated by cultural variety, streaming shows in regional languages is much more likely to catch someone’s attention.

    On a global scale, the time spent on OTT media services is rising substantially. Watching shows in English is a given, and the quality of a show in question will attract people towards it.

     Creating, and streaming existing/new shows in regional languages will lead to more people buying into the OTT media services experience, generating more revenue, and indulging a much larger audience.