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In the OTT cosmos, regional content is the breakout star

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The astronomical rise of OTT has triggered a paradigm shift in the content consumption pattern of the audience. The audience today is more open to a wide range of content given the ease of access at their disposal.

As the brim of consolidated content buckets from across platforms overflows with each passing day, the average consumer is spoilt for choices.

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The democratisation of the content production, distribution and exhibition courtesy the OTT, has enabled storytellers to find their audience, make brave choices and push the envelope for the stories in the pursuit of brilliance.

For instance, filmmakers from Marathi cinema, ably supported by the Planet Marathi OTT’s game changing innovations and content solutions, have been crafting ground-breaking stories that resonate with people not just in India but also globally.

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Akshay Bardapurkar, Founder, Planet Marathi, says, “Regional content is demanded globally by viewers who speak Marathi, who are familiar with the language and even those who simply enjoy the content irrespective of the language. Language is no longer the barrier in the OTT age. Audiences seek meaningful entertainment. Marathi filmmakers have demonstrated the potential to make ground-breaking content in the past.”

A good story is something that connects with people on a subconscious level and brings them together under one roof from a wide spectrum of demographics, regions and cultural differences. As Netflix India spokesperson says, “All the best stories in the world are authentic to their local context and origins of their characters, yet evoke universal emotions. And this is why this is an exciting time for stories in any language to be successful anywhere.”

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Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 India says, “On ZEE5, almost 50 per cent viewership comes from regional language content. We currently house regional original content in 6 languages i.e. Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and very recently Punjabi. For the rest, we have a series of dubbed content available on the platform. Overall, we have content and UI & UX in all 12 languages.”

With changes in the socio-economic sphere of the country, data and smartphones have become an integral part of modern life. Today, the Internet has spread to the most remote places in India which has naturally opened an oracle of new territories for storytellers.

Commenting on the same, Manish says, “With deeper and wider penetration of Internet and mobiles in India, consumption of OTT content is no longer a metro phenomenon.”

He adds, “At an industry level, as per E-marketer, Ericsson, BCG Research Report, Indian language Internet users are expected to grow to 536 million with 9 out of 10 new Internet users in the country likely to be Indian language users, paving way for rapid user growth on OTTs with strong language content offering.”

It’s not just the deepest corners of India that the regional content is reaching out to, it’s making inroads on the fertile grounds outside India as well.

Sharing an insight about how regional content on Netflix is transcending boundaries, Netflix India spokesperson states, “We are seeing tremendous success for films, across languages, on Netflix. Our Tamil anthology film ‘Navarasa’, helmed by Mani Ratnam and Jayendra Panchapakesan was in the Top 10 in 10 countries including India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka. In its first week on Netflix, more than 40 per cent of the viewers for the film were from outside India.”

Quoting another example, the spokesperson adds, “Likewise, in its first week alone, the Dhanush-starrer ‘Jagame Thandhiram’ drew an equal share of audience from outside India as it did within the country. The film was subtitled and dubbed in multiple Indian languages as well as English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese, enabling wider access for our members around the world. ‘Jagame Thandhiram’ has been in the Top 10 in 12 countries outside India and has been No. 1 in 7 countries, including India, Malaysia, and the UAE.”

Rounding up the content year 2021 for the platform, the Netflix spokesperson presents an assorted collection of content pieces available on the platform and also the upcoming release, “In the last one year, Martin Prakkat’s ‘Nayattu’ (Malayalam), V. Vignarajan’s ‘Andhaghaaram’ (Tamil), our local anthologies ‘Pitta Kathalu’ (Telugu) and ‘Paava Kadhaigal’ (Tamil), Praveen Kandregula’s ‘Cinema Bandi’ (Telugu) and Mandonne Ashwin’s ‘Mandela’ (Tamil) were also widely loved by our members and featured in the Top 10 in India. We can’t wait to bring ‘Minnal Murali’ (Malayalam) to our members on December 24.”

In the same vein, Manish Kalra outlines ZEE5’s 2021 content line-up, “We had a strong 2021 content line-up of 50+ theatricals and 40+ Originals across diverse languages, making our language play one of the strongest in the industry”.

With growing engagement and awareness towards regional content, the content industry is going through its golden period.

ZEE5’s Manish Kalra leads us into a glimpse of their content strategy to leverage the growing engagement, “With a concerted focus on ‘Deeper Regionalisation’, ZEE5 has always stood for empowering Indians to consume entertainment anytime and anywhere. Our primary objective is to drive ‘Entertainment Inclusion’, by onboarding millions of digital consumers and democratising access to bespoke Indian entertainment for all, especially for markets which are new/underserved”.

Akshay Bardapurkar of Planet Marathi shares the platform’s strategy to capitalise on the boom, as he says, “All we lacked as an industry was the financial backing to make this content larger than life. We at Planet Marathi have connected Marathi talent reservoir with an internationally funded platform. Vistas Media Capital has joined hands in making Marathi regional content global with Planet Marathi.”

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