By Viveck Vaswani
Dean, School of Contemporary Media
The advent of streaming services has revolutionized the way we consume entertainment, and with the rise of OTT platforms, there has been a significant increase in the diversity of content available. Over-the-top platforms (OTT) have completely transformed the way we consume content. When it comes to content, viewers, especially Indians, love regional content on OTT platforms, according to a recent study titled Indian OTT Platforms 2023. According to a FICCI-PwC report, the share of regional language consumption on OTT platforms will cross 50% of total time spent by 2025, easing past Hindi at 45%.
The popularity of OTT platforms in India has led to increased competition among providers, with each platform trying to differentiate itself by offering unique content or features. Many platforms have also started producing original content in India to attract viewers and stand out in a crowded market. These platforms have always prided themselves on being more diverse than traditional media, offering content that represents different types of genres, a variety of stories, races, ethnicities, cultures, genders, and sexualities. This was seen as a crucial foundation of the OTT industry, with platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and others investing heavily in diverse programming to differentiate themselves from traditional broadcasters.
Today, OTT epitomizes the “TV Everywhere” ideology, with a series of seamless access points across computers, tablets, mobile phones, and traditional television sets. Viewers can watch their desired show when they want, how they want, wherever they want.
A novel concept
Although interactive storytelling is a novel concept in India, Indian start-ups are not shying away from adding a fresh spin to this by introducing a series of features. Instead of turning stories into videos, they are introducing new technology to ensure viewers don’t watch but live a story. They have started marrying words with various multimedia elements.
Redefining the Meaning of Interactive
There is an interactive platform that allows readers to make decisions within the story, much like the Bandersnatch episode of Netflix’s dystopian Black Mirror series, where viewers have to choose different options to reach the end of the story. Interestingly, there are alternative endings depending on the option chosen by the user. Such an interesting format undoubtedly marks a new beginning for storytelling, offering readers a truly interactive experience.
Over-the-top (OTT) content refers to audiovisual content delivered over the internet directly to viewers, bypassing traditional broadcast and cable TV networks. OTT players are witnessing high demand for movies and original content, even in regional languages around the world. The inclusion of regional content on OTT platforms has paved the way for mass-market adoption instead of the initial niche offering that these were once.
India has seen a significant increase in the popularity of OTT platforms over the past few years, with viewers opting for on demand and personalized content. One of the significant factors contributing to the growth of the OTT market in India is the availability of multi-lingual content. India is a diverse country with several regional languages, and the demand for content in different languages is high. OTT platforms have recognized this demand and are catering to it by offering content in various languages. These offerings in regional content has provided viewers with a broader range of choices, catering to their language and cultural preferences. This has not only helped in reaching a wider audience but has also increased the viewership of regional content.
The production of original regional content on OTT platforms has provided opportunities for regional actors, directors, and writers, contributing to the growth of the entertainment industry in India. Many regional actors have gained recognition and popularity through their performances in regional OTT content. The production of original regional content has also boosted the regional film industry. This has encouraged more filmmakers to produce quality content in regional languages to showcase their work to a wider audience.
With the increasing penetration of smartphones and internet connectivity, OTT platforms have become more accessible to a wider audience. This has made it easier for viewers to access regional content from anywhere at any time. Also, since it is more cost-effective, it has made it an attractive option for viewers looking for affordable entertainment.
Trends already show that viewers are thirsty for content in their regional dialects, and the next couple of years might see a significant expansion in regional video content streaming, magazines, and series. With the increasing popularity of regional language content, it is expected that more OTT platforms will focus on producing and providing diverse content, contributing to the future expansion of OTT platforms across the globe.