Language no bar on OTT: Regional language content scores high on the web
While English and Hindi video content is considered to be a more preferred languages for audiences on the OTT platforms, the rise of regional original web content is also gaining prominence now. Even a recent survey by FICCI, predicts that the share of regional language consumption on OTT platforms will cross 50% of total time spent by 2025, thereby going past Hindi which will be at 45%.
Explaining the reason, Vikram Mehra, MD Saregama India, says, “We firmly believe that the next wave of digital consumers will come from the smaller towns. We have done extensive research over the last 24 months across 23 cities, exploring entertainment consumption patterns of audiences — their preferences and sensitivities. Our findings clearly point out that the audiences in these town prefer to consume content in their native language.”
He further adds that armed with such telling insights, they are making substantial investments and acquisitions across all leading Indian languages —Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Bhojpuri, Hariyanvi , Bengali and Gujarati.
Actor Swwapnil Joshi has been part of two seasons of Marathi language web series Samantar in which he plays the role of Kumar Mahajan, whose life changes after he goes on journey.
Talking about his show gaining popularity despite being in a regional language, he says, “The boundaries are shrinking. There is nothing called regional content anymore. I mean look at Money Heist, it is also a regional show because it is in Spanish language but see the popularity. Similarly, shows in Indian regional languages are getting popular day by day because of the top notch quality.”
Having been part of three seasons of Bengali web series, Hello, actor Raima Sen shares that she ventured into the territory of web projects with the regional project only.
“I had my own apprehension of doing a web show because I was not aware of what it was. But I took the gamble and did it. And Hello was such a massive success that we ended up doing three season till date. The content may be in Bengali but it is being watched all over. That is the beauty of web,” she shares.
Actor Priya Bapat who starred in Marathi series Aani Kay Hava, which has had three seasons already, is elated that not just Hindi, now a lot of regional language content is doing great.
“It is very satisfying to know that there is a shift and constant growth in the audience especially for regional content on OTT. They are open to watching it. I am also glad to see different directors and content creators venturing into regional content,” Bapat explains.
Anant Roongta, MD at Famous Studios, says that regional content has received significant traction on OTT platforms in the recent past, given the expansive Internet penetration in the country, in tandem with the accessibility of smart phones today.
“Producers are focused on creating content in different parts of the country and their production value has considerably improved. This content has found an audience base across various demographics and sensibilities. Whatever the native language may be, if the story is interesting and gripping, content creators are getting it dubbed in regional languages; thereby offering localized services which has undoubtedly made a big difference. Furthermore, there is already a strong demand for such content on OTT platforms. The audience has been immensely receptive and is asking for more,” he tells us.
Zee5 has also decided to launch of a series of Punjabi movies, web-series, originals and shows. Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 India, said that their increased focus on Punjabi bespoke content will aim to cater to this rising demand for quality entertainment in local languages.
“This will help us become a one-stop destination for users to watch high quality Punjabi content, bringing us one step closer to our larger vision of achieving entertainment inclusion for underserved markets,” he ends.