At present, the television broadcast industry in India is going through significant changes. With increasing internet access speed and advent of digital streaming platforms, Indian audience now has a whole new world of accessing variety of new content. From information to entertainment, internet provides it all, anytime and anywhere. As a result, there is a noticeable shift in consumer preferences toward digital-media consumption in comparison to traditional forms of media. The OTT giants are targeting millennial population who are hooked to their mobile phones, which undoubtedly results into a serious threat to traditional broadcasters. The surge in the number of devices, capable of supporting digital media, has provided consumers with an option to access the media content of their preference at their favored timings.
With every new invention comes a scope for innovation, and thereafter to formulate and update the concept to make it more user-friendly. In this user-driven world, and the dynamics that come with it, it has become an utmost necessity for all major players in the broadcasting industry to chalk out serious content strategies, while also evaluating various business models to monetize the content. Recent trends reveal that Indian broadcasting giants are now under cumulative pressure to present cutting-edge content as well as narrowcasting. The upsurge of digital content in the last few years has allowed vernacular languages to break into the mainstream. Thus, focus is now being drawn to regionalization of television content, in terms of dubbing, along with special content creation for Tier-II and Tier-III cities. There is a growing consensus that regionalization is the key to the growth of television broadcasting industry in India.
One more reason for the need to shift toward regionalization is that the major Tier-I cities are beginning to show signs of slowdown in consumption patterns or are approaching market saturation. As a result, the regional market space has emerged as the main target for higher growth rates of consumption in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. The higher consumption pattern in regional markets, along with lower advertising rates in regional outlets, makes the regional spaces more lucrative avenues.
In the early years of broadcasting in India, regional-language channels or regionalization of international content were largely absent. In fact, regional-language programming was restricted to specific time slots and was generally limited to programming formats like news and regional-language films. This scenario began to change in the early 1990s, with the rise of commercial satellite and cable television channels.
In recent time, media industry advocates in India have started to see catering to audiences from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, and everyone in between, as something that is close at hand because of strategies like regionalization, digitization, and conglomeration. This has led to rapid increase in the number of regional channels as well as separate regional feed for already-established channels showcasing international content, thus opening the doors for new market opportunities. As a result of the growing regional-content consumption, the dubbing industry is on the rise like never before. The Hindi GECs have also utilized this prospect by featuring contestants drawn from both Hindi-speaking and non-Hindi speaking regions of India in their popular Hindi reality television shows. The focus now is on offering personalized content to users to ensure undisrupted demand.
Indian audience has passed the verdict – they want content that is differentiated, comprehensible, and relatable. This shift to regional content has just begun, and will be a key driver of growth in content consumption in Indian broadcast market going forward. Hence, regional content, enriched with vernacular language, will allow the media players to remain relevant, and will eventually widen their audience reach, and secure their place in the race.