It is not just Indian cinema that is intensifying at Bharat's heartland for setting its tales in; digital platforms, too, are not far behind. Hindi hinterland stories have secured a subsequent place on OTT platforms that are constantly looking to engage their audience with different genres. Owing to the large viewership from tier two and tier three markets, OTT players need to gear up to tap extensively into the Bharat audience by creating content as per their viewer's desire.
According to a Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) report, TV consumption in India grew by 38 percent compared to the pre-COVID period. Come to think about it, for ages, it was television that was the binding glue that brought families together, and that baton is slowly moving towards OTT. When the entire country is putting its best foot forward to overcome the pandemic, it is the shared viewing experience that is having both a unifying and an uplifting effect on the consumers' morale.
On the constant lookout for captivating and entertaining content as a form of recreation, the OTT sector has witnessed a surge in subscribers and watch time, and this is most common among the youth audience. Audiences also spend more time viewing different media, specifically online video content such as YouTube and short-format video apps, as per various reports.
The hinterland audience, especially, has an inherent interest in seeking relatable content, and OTT players need to understand their needs and preferences to expand their audience base. According to an industry report by KPMG titled - 'Unravelling the digital video consumer', 64% of India's digital video consumers prefer consuming content in Hindi. The remainder of the viewership pie sees Tamil (5%), Telugu (4%), and Bengali (4%), as the top regional languages. Further tapping into regional content, OTT players are now commissioning quite a few regional shows alongside Hindi ones. After all, it is essential to recognise the nuances of these communities and tell stories that matter to one and all. Thus, the birth of a lot of regional OTT players as well.
Hindi originals with a good storyline win the cake in most cases. Star power has also been seen to hit the nail to entice the hinterland audience. With popular movie actors, including Saif Ali Khan, Karishma Kapoor, and Abhishek Bachchan, taking up shows on OTT platforms, the audience starts trusting OTT. With famous faces endorsing the platforms' content, there has been an increase towards roping in new viewers. To promote these hinterland stories even further, OTT platforms associate with micro-influencers across different platforms, over the internet. This word-of-mouth advertising has worked its appeal across the country.
Apart from content scrutiny, storytellers are exploring pricing, to cater to a broader audience. Telcos partnership, as well as subscription packs, are means of catering to this. Through penetrative and competitive pricing, OTT players provide their offerings affordable to lure in fresh users. By providing unlimited access lasting a few days to a week via sachet packs, OTT platforms increase their subscription base as one-time users convert into permanent subscribers. To ease the digitisqation further across the hinterlands, multiple government and private centres help people with their digital quick-fixes.
The rise of digital content consumption has made the delivery of enhanced user experience take primacy as one of the streaming platforms' key objectives. Through adopting innovative and data-driven design approaches - the quality of the user experience has become a deciding factor for a user to choose among the various available services in the market. Hinterland audience requires ease in operations, unlike the urban audience, who looks out for advanced features.
Understanding the target group and their challenges, have seen streaming platforms today offer a host of payment options and subscription packages that align with the hinterland audiences' consumption patterns. From a content segmentation and a garnering subscription perspective, one needs to expand, acquire, and retain audiences. Rest assured that there will be a content bouquet that will always regale audiences and subscription models that ensure the viewer an entertainment service that is value for money.
(The author is SVP, marketing, direct revenue and analytics, ALTBalaji)
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