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Regional Content Burst Out Of Closet, Subscribes To OTT Growth

In the last year, several OTTs presenting content in local languages have sprung up. Big names like Ram Gopal Varma launched Spark (OTT platform), and Tollywood producers like Allu Aravind started AHA. The stake in OTT is so much, and expectations are high.

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The famous tagline ‘Vocal for Local’ is not just limited to entrepreneurs and in the startup world, however, crossing boundaries, and emerging as a new sentiment, as far as regional content on OTT (Over The Top) platforms are concerned. 

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic forced all of us to stay home as travel and other movements halted. Many things that the COVID-19 outbreak will be a setback for cinema and content creators. Little do we know that this pandemic will open doors for new talent, cinema, and content regional languages or combinations of both. 

In the last year, several OTTs presenting content in local languages have sprung up. Big names like Ram Gopal Varma launched Spark (OTT platform), and Tollywood producers like Allu Aravind started AHA. The stake in OTT is so much, and expectations are high.

Samar Khan, COO, OTT Business, Juggernaut Productions talked about the growth potential for regional content, as demand for content in one’s mother tongue is growing. He said, "Yes there is, content is best consumed in your mother tongue or the language of comfort and with the need for content growing, it’s only logical that content starts getting made in regional languages."

The Indian regional market is rising day by day, thanks to the latest technology. Presently, people in rural areas, small towns, metropolitan cities have access to better internet connectivity.

Rupesh Kashyap, Founder, and CCO, FNW Studio- Bharat Ka Writers Room, said, "I would say Bharat rather than saying regional is the driver for not only OTT growth but also e-commerce. And they both go hand in hand. Today, the digitalsation of payments, banking and other needs are being met in Bharat, as the consumers are transitioning from an aware state to an awakened state."

According to the FICCI-EY report on Media and Entertainment (M&E) Industry, the share of regional language consumption on OTT platforms will cross 50 per cent by 2025. "I think it will happen because regional OTT players will be making more originals which will be culturally and socially attuned to their customer’s current needs and demands," Kashyap added. 

It has been said that the OTT industry is estimated to be $500 million and by 2025 it can touch $1.5 billion. 

Akshay Bardapurkar, Founder at Planet Marathi said, "India is a huge country but its regional to its core, hyper-local content does well, it's always fun to see your stories being told to the world in a cinematic way." He also said that OTT is here to stay and grow, however, a huge responsibility lies on regional content makers and regional OTT platforms. 

The push for regional content: 

To increase the contribution of regional content in the OTT industry, India needs to widen the scope for regional cinema, so that it can flourish. 

Talking about the contribution of regional content OTT industry, Kashyap said, "Most certainly because of two reasons. First, the big chunk of the population living in tier II+ are fence-sitters despite having the technology. Secondly, this is the need and responsibility of the regional content creators to bridge it through. Accessibility- sampling is the key to enter the pocket of fence-sitters. If she can access the content free for a month or two or three, slowly she will convert." 

Kashyap also said that the Tier II+ audience loves to learn from their neighbours (read influencers). The more they are aware of the product's diversified content portfolios as they like to watch TV soaps, reality shows, local language movies, and now interactive games the more chances of accepting it. "Aggressive Pricing plans or the bundled offerings is the need of the hour as she prefers more bang for her bucks, he added."

Changes over the years: 

Cinema in India has witnessed a sharp change over the years. Presently, regional films like Sairat (Marathi), Bahubali (South Indian) are one of the biggest examples in terms of box office collections and love from other states, who may not speak the language. 

"We are a linguistically diverse nation and the biggest change I have seen in recent years is that mobile technology in India has empowered people to express themselves in their own native languages through vernacular (writing), voice, and video,” Kashyap said. 

According to Google reports in 2020, a total of 90 per cent of people prefer searching in their own language. Needless to say, it has impacted the choice and decision of the people for everything including OTT viewing. “Pandemic accelerated the growth of OTT unprecedentedly as people got more time and therefore, they explored the content to be entertained. Now, the same people are a bit evolved in terms of their kind of content. Now their appetite for quality content has increased multifold that educates, enriches, and entertains them. In their mother tongue," said Kashyap. 

At present, films are not only male or hero-centric, and regional cinema is experimenting with the content a lot. Films like Piku, Queen, Raazi (Hindi), Uyare (Malayalam) etc, are living examples. 

"One big change is in the escalation of production budgets, quality has improved and international style of making content is being introduced every day, it's no more the same old stories but newer narratives are being told by the way of fresh content. Also, web series is being enjoyed a lot, which is different from the usual films, hence the originals will have their way up in the coming days," Bardapurkar said. 

Regional content, OTT, and future: 

In the past few years, especially after COVID-19 hit us and theatres closed down, India witnessed a rise in regional OTT platforms in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh-Telangana, and Tamil Nadu. 

"I don't think there is a next phase, regional and mainstream like Hindi, English is growing simultaneously, in fact, regional content will outgrow the main language as there is much more passion and sense of pride involved in regional space than ever before," Bardapurkar said. 

There are several platforms in this space like aha (Telugu), Hoichoi (Bengali), Planet Marathi, Koode (Malayalam), and City Short TV (Gujarati), etc. They are further enhancing the regional content. 

"We are seeing exponential growth in the amount of content being consumed but most of it is in Hindi and English and a few regional languages. So there will be a growth in content creation not only in Hindi but in regional languages also," Khan added. 


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local language regional content ott india