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Regional OTTs — streaming ahead, full steam

It’s been a blockbuster time for OTT platforms during the pandemic. With people cooped indoors, theatres shut, increasing smartphone penetration and data plans getting cheaper, OTT platforms have streamed ahead. But within the OTT space, regional channels are taking the spotlight, recording unprecedented growth.

Take aha for instance. The 100-per cent Telugu streaming platform logged over 1.5-million paid subscribers and 40-million-plus users in just over a year of its launch in February 2020.

“Whatever benchmarks we have set for ourselves, given the size of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, we are growing 2x to 3x of that,” Ajit Thakur, CEO, aha, said, adding, “We are acquiring more and more content and have been releasing new content every week since our launch.”

Not just aha. Many of the existing regional web platforms have flourished in the past year even as dozens of new ones got launched since the pandemic. For instance, now there is Neestream and Koode for Malayalam; Addatimes and Hoichoi (Bengali); Talkies (Tulu, Konkani, Kannada); Oho Gujarati and CityShor.TV (Gujarati)’ Planet Marathi (Marathi); Regal Talkies (Tamil) and Sun NXT (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali) to name only a few.

The dearth of regional content with global OTT platforms — which are predominantly focussed on English, foreign languages and Hindi — has paved the way for the rise and rise of regional OTTs.

Growing viewership
According to the latest FICCI-EY report Playing by new rules: Media and Entertainment Industry trends 2020, the share of regional language consumption on OTT platforms will cross 50 per cent by 2025 easing past Hindi at 45 per cent. The share of regional consumption on OTTs stood at 30 per cent in 2019.

Netflix’s recent move to have a dedicated Twitter handle to promote South Indian content and the growing number of Hollywood films and web series that are getting dubbed in regional languages point to a battle-in-the-making to woo the regional viewer.

“The amount of content a regional consumer can watch on these major OTT platforms is low. Many people in Chennai are not even attracted to Hindi content. Why would they pay to watch a Korean or Turkish or a Mexican movie,” Sriram Manoharan, Founder of GudSho, asked BusinessLine.

Manoharan launched the OTT platform GudSho’ in April and will stream content only in the four South Indian languages.

“Major OTT platforms are focussed only in the urban pockets. But, I think, the only way to spread the scale is to explore regional and pay-per-view as the revenue model,” he added. The Hindu BusinessLine

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