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Indepth: OTT players’ regional gamble-Identifying pain points- Part 2

The rapid up-take of connected devices, especially smartphones and tablets, has been instrumental in media consumption shifting beyond traditional media formats such as broadcast and cable TV towards digital mediums. According to an EY report, the Indian digital segment is set for disruption with growth expected to cross Rs 20,000 crore by 2020. 

Driven by the exponential growth of video consumption over digital media, video OTT platforms have been key focus areas for the leading media conglomerates and start-ups alike. The market is also observing entry of large global digital video players (Netflix entered India in early 2016, while Amazon Prime Video was launched in December 2016). Today, India has 8-10 mainline OTT platforms and over five SVOD platforms, including Eros Now, Hotstar, YuppTV, nexGTv, Ditto. 

Content genres like entertainment, sports, and kids are emerging as the key focus areas for the platforms. Most of these players are at early stages of their maturity and are focusing on rapid consumer aggregation and driving engagement. 

Live OTT – while still in early days – is garnering a sizeable audience base, led by news, events and sports. An average of just 30 minutes of live programming per day can add up to 20 per cent to a platform’s viewership. 

Meanwhile, the preference of the Indian consumers towards vernacular and regional language content is constantly on the upswing, with 93 per cent of the time spent on videos in Hindi and other regional languages. Currently, 45 per cent of online users consume regional language content and this percentage is expected to increase with the growth of internet users. Apart from Hindi, the most preferred Indian languages include Tamil and Telugu, followed by Marathi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Kannada and Malayalam. Although viewership in OTT space is more urban centric, it is changing rapidly because of growing internet access and the Digital India initiative. 

Two of the major OTT players – Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video – are among those aggressively working towards providing more regional and localised content to the Indian audience. Hotstar benefits from being owned by a powerhouse in India’s entertainment space of broadcasters, Star India. This allows Hostar for in-house license to widely-watched content from a dozen cable (such as Star Plus, Star Vijay, Asianet, and National Geographic). Likewise, Amazon Prime India made a splash at launch by announcing a platter of 17 original Indian shows, from the likes of Farhan and Zoya Akhtar, Vikramaditya Motwane, and All India Bakchod. When it comes to acquiring content, Amazon has depicted a bigger focus on Indian regional content than any other, with films available in six different languages, such as Bengali, Tamil, etc. 

With the growing clout of Tier 2 and 3 cities and towns, regional content is set to contribute 35-40 per cent of the viewership in the next 5 years. As per a recent KPMG Google report, by 2021 about 40 per cent of the total user base will be Hindi, and next the bigger sets are Bengali, Tamil and Telugu. 

The scope and potential for regional content in the OTT space is immense. Adgully takes an Indepth look at the growth of regional language content in OTT in this three-part feature report. In Part 1 of the report, we delved into the various factors contributing to the growth of regional content, the categories and genres that are driving this growth, why OTT players are bullish on regional content and more. In Part 2, we highlight the pain points that are hampering the more widespread adoption of regional content in OTT. 

The pain points 

Uday Sodhi
Uday Sodhi

Uday Sodhi, EVP and Head-Digital Business, SonyLIV:
“Infrastructure, bandwidth, low penetration of payment gateways and also the availability of original regional web content are the major pain points hampering the more widespread adoption of regional content in OTT.” 



Manav Sethi
Manav Sethi

Manav Sethi, CMO, ALT Balaji:
“Pain points are largely availability of talent like actors, but you don’t have that many number of writers and producers who are geared up to engrave this new medium called OTT. Firstly, making a 3-hour long movie versus a show which is split into episodes, each of 20 to 30 minute duration and the story arc has to be served at the end of each episode, motivating the audience to watch the next episode. So, the way of storytelling is much different. Secondly, the commercials are very different. A 30-minute content is used at a price point where it becomes viable commercially, that’s the Holy Grail of the OTT ecosystem.” 

Abhesh Verma
Abhesh Verma

Abhesh Verma, COO, nexGTV:
“The technical infrastructure is yet to come of age. Users of today are growing to be impatient and even a 5-second delay in buffering would cause abandonment. However, the data networks are majorly low speed, marked with sporadic surges. As we continue to strengthen the internet reach across the subcontinent, we would witness more adoption of VOD and live-streaming.”  


Manasi Sapre
Manasi Sapre

Manasi Sapre, Programming Head, Viu India:
“More than pain point there is a perception in media that regional content is secondary to Hindi content, which I think is not the reality. It’s just a perception, because we sit in one or two cities in Hindi speaking markets, for example, if you see the regional content that we produce, the quality, the kind of production values that you get, you will rarely see it in any Hindi content. Some of the Marathi content is also far superior in terms of production values than Hindi. I think it’s not the pain point, what we need to do is change the perception. Moreover, OTT platform is also catering to audience of today’s generation, who is more open to something different – be it food, costumes, festivals or anything. For example, Bengali OTT content is no longer restricted to a Bengali speaking audience since it also has English subtitles. So, we have to keep this in mind that our audience is not just in the 40-50 age group who would prefer watching in their own regional language. There is acceptance of diversity in the audience and languages in the OTT space, and this is not just for Viu but on other platforms as well. The audience is widely sampling regional content because of the presence of the subtitles. It is important to note that India has seen a tremendous growth in the overall content with regional languages, be it obvious suspects like Telugu and Tamil, followed by Marathi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Odiya, Kannada and Malayalam. Looking at the fact that India has such a rich background of cultures, religions, cinema, etc., this is a natural progression in the OTT space. Therefore, we see content being made not just in Hindi, but in other languages as well.


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