We have seen traditional broadcasters investing heavily in Regional (non-Hindi) markets. Star Zee, Viacom18 et al, have substantial television presence in all major regional markets with Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, and Gujarati content. But when it comes to digital video, there are not too many creating digital-only content despite huge demands. What is the way out of this mismatch? Devendra Deshpande, head content plus, Mindshare India; Vishnu Mohta, Co-Founder, Hoichoi; and Nishant Radia founder and CMO, Vidooly, discussed the issue in detail in a panel discussion moderated by Anirban Roy Choudhury, Principal Correspondent.
Anirban asked Nishant to shed some light on the regional content ecosystem and if Vidooly analytics show enough content is created to cater to the demand. "We do not have enough content creators creating original digital video content in regional languages, but that does not mean regional markets are not consuming digital videos," Radia replied.
He added, "Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, and Gujarati are the markets where we see a lot of digital content consumption happening. But they watch catch-up TV content created by the traditional broadcasters."
All panellists agreed that a clear mismatch between demand and supply, when it comes to regional content, exists. Deshpande alluded about his experience with 'NO. 1 Yaari with Rana', a regional chat show that airs on Gemini TV in the Telugu market and streams on Viu. Mindshare conceptualised the show and owns its IPR. Deshpande agrees because he could not find enough content to actually associate with for its client McDowell's and that is why they had to create an IP to reach out to the target group.
Despande said, "The brand wanted to target the male audience, now the GECs are always focusing more towards the female lot and hence, we had to create a show which has the potential to garner male viewership and that is how the show happened."
Vishnu Mohta shared his observations of handling Hoichoi, "Surprisingly, Bangalore ranks third in terms of the number of viewers coming from a particular location. 250 million people speak Bengali across the globe; when it comes to video consumption, they only have TV or films as options. Now, I think TV shows focus more on tier II and tier III female audiences (GEC space) so there is a big gap in tier one, which we intend to fill, with Hoichoi," he said.
The quality of content also emerged as a point of discussion and Radia defined quality as one of the biggest challenges for the regional digital video content creator. He said, "The CPM rates are very low when it comes to regional content and that's the biggest mismatch at this stage. Brands need to invest and support regional content, only then will we see premium regional content becoming available. For us, premium means well-produced content."
That was one of the primary reasons why Hoichoi decided to run on a subscription-based video on demand model, asserted Mohta. He added, "We are spending a significant amount to create premium content and we think paying is the only way to recover that. At Hoichoi, we marry the quality of films with the discipline of TV."
Deshpande thinks Hoichoi is 3 years ahead of its time and India is not ready to pay for content yet. He believes content creator-brand partnerships are here to stay.
Education is the need of the hour for all content creators creating digital videos in regional/ vernacular languages - that is what all panellists feel at this moment.