This has led to change in India’s socio-economic profile where people from low-income group can access content digitally along with demographic deepening – beyond 35 years of age, and penetration beyond tier II and tier III cities. In fact for many of them, affordable smartphone is the only source of Internet. They might not use it for shopping but video consumption will continue to be a fairly significant component of Internet usage.
Nonetheless there is a difference between putting TV shows online and generating original shows for digital specifically. The latter is where the maximum opportunity for emerging online channels or start-ups across categories is. This includes short films, spoofs or parodies etc., in short and long format videos ranging from around four minutes to up to 90 minutes on different over-the-top (OTT) players such as YouTube (biggest platform), Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram etc.
This opportunity exploded when such start-ups or online entertainment channels realized that millennials particularly are not able to connect to the content on TV. Hence, unlike TV, the audience cannot be generalized on digital and that calls for niche or original content.
“On TV everything looks unreal right from actors, location, make up, dresses, issues they deal with in daily life etc. With TV penetrated into villages, the content quality is more regressive whereas on digital it is progressive in terms of uniqueness and it connects with youth,” says Mohit Hussein, Co-Founder, Shitty Ideas Trending (SIT)– a comedy channel on YouTube that created its first web series on couples’ relationship.
Largely, the content distribution for these start-ups happens on YouTube and Facebook followed by WhatsApp, Instagram and lastly Snapchat. However, the spread of content on YouTube is done through WhatsApp, or Facebook. The approach though for YouTube and Facebook is different.
“Users have different mindsets on the two platforms. On YouTube, it is only about watching videos while Facebook is more personal,” says Anand Doshi, Co-Founder, Click Digital Studios. The four-year-old start-up runs 80 channels including animation, live shows, voice over and image based, and produces around 200 videos across its channels including its animated bollywood spoofs under the channel Shudh Desi Endings with combined monthly traffic of 350-380 million views. “YouTube has been the medium for us largely so far but Facebook is catching up,” adds Doshi. As per an Ernst & Young report in 2016 on future of digital content consumption in India, the audience is increasingly looking for regional content with 93 per cent of the time spent on videos in different languages including Hindi. In fact nine out of 10 new users on Internet for the first time are language users but the challenge explains Menon, is that “there is not enough structured regional content available.”