How often do we come across an entertainer in our lives? How do we define who is an entertainer? It could be a stage artist? Sure. Could it be a poet? Absolutely. How about an actor? Precisely. Maybe a folk artist from a small village from far east India? Definitely.
We interact with Art, Entertainment, and Media almost on a daily basis. From the writer who writes for the daily newspaper you consume to the singer, who’s songs are on the top of your playlist. For the Indian audience, or rather the entertainers, the market is an altogether different ball game. Apart from an emerging hub of fortune 500 companies, it is ushering in a digital era through digital vehicles and platforms.
One of the most striking vehicles in India that has changed the way consumers view entertainment, OTT platforms have seen growth like never before. Over-The-Top platforms are those that stream media services via the internet and make content available to the consumer directly rather than a third-party.
India has always been a welcoming audience for innovation when it comes to technology, entertainment, education, infrastructure, and other contributing factors that make it a young & upcoming economy on a global scale. There was a time when Netflix, F-movies or Youtube were online streaming platforms that were extremely popular in the west. As the generation Z moved forward and ventured into the world for different purposes, they found themselves at the cusp of a revolutionary entertainment ante.
In recent years, OTT platforms such as Hotstar (recently taken over by Disney), Netflix (the Indian arm of Netflix Inc.), Amazon Prime Video, Alt Balaji (owned by Balaji telefilms), Voot (Viacom18), SonyLIV (owned by Sony Pictures Network), Zee5 (operated by Essel Group and owned by Zee Entertainment), and various other online video streaming providers have emerged as what could be called “The Kings of Regional Entertainment in India”.
The internet strategies picked up by the Information Technology & Communication Ministry of India lately have transitioned India from a television consumer audience to a digital media content consumer. The telecommunication service providers in India have made it easier for the audience to consume content on not only television screens but their mobile devices, tablets, and laptops as well.
The statistics of the consumption of online streaming platforms or OTTs are phenomenal in India. Apart from International shows that are aired on these platforms, regional content is highly supported and appreciated by the audiences. It would amuse one to know that regional content is almost 63% in non-metros of India. Surprising enough, almost 41% of the 63 are men who consume the regional content on these OTT platforms.
According to Google, almost 97% of the content consumed on Youtube is regional in India. Almost 60% of the population that consumes the content comes from cities that are not Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Lucknow, and Kolkata. An idea spurs from these astounding figures is that with regional content being curated in such a massive capacity, there are those many resources that are put to work. With series, movies, reality shows, and others, there are those artists who are present in every nook & corner of the country. With 35 states & union territories in India, the statistics give us a fair idea of how much manpower is available for & from M&E, regionally.
There is no turning from the fact that Netflix is the go-to OTT for a mass population of the country. Whether it is The Crown, Bodyguard, El Chapo, Narcos, or Money Heist, Netflix has been on top of the content game from the beginning. To have a deeper connection with the audience in India, Netflix joined hands with Karan Johar, a celebrated movie director in Bollywood to create regional content. It signed up with other directors such as Anurag Kashyap to create content in and around the Indian sub-context and thus, we saw an exceptional well made series in the face of Sacred Games. Dharamtic Productions owned by Karan Johar recently released an exclusive Netflix original film called “Guilty”.
Regional content is indeed a stupendous game plan of OTT platforms in India. For years, Ekta Kapoor, better known as “Queen of Indian Television” wrote, directed, and produced daily soaps that were viewed by most Indian households for decades. Her vision to bring entertainment to every individual there is, enlarged as she came up with Alt Balaji. An online video streaming application that has a viewership of over a million and a half, Alt Balaji is considered to be a benchmark in the regional content creation market per say. With more than 250 hours of original content streaming every month, the website/application saw a total of 32 shows that catered to different audiences in terms of age, and gender.
Amazon Prime Video, slowly venturing to the top of the charts has seen some of the greatest shows from the Indian cinema & entertainment industry. Made In Heaven, The Forgotten Army, Mirzapur, The Family Man, Four More Shots Please, Inside Edge, Comicstaan, Skulls n Roses, and other shows have grabbed the attention of audiences like none other. It is becoming synonymous with top quality content in India that in itself is a victory for the OTT platform. Almost 93% of users that stream content on Amazon Prime Video, view regional content rather than the English series available.
Each month, as newer content is aired, whether on televisión or other media vehicles, a new ensemble of artists emerge. These artists are not only those who appear on the screens but those who put their heart & soul into the making of that series. From an extra to the writer who spices up the script, each individual involved in curating the content has a major role to play.
Having said that, while regional content is being given a boost, what about those who make it all happen? What about those who work tirelessly to bring you a Sacred Games or a Guilty? Apart from the brand entities that drive them in terms of the actors, there are various other elements, people, and factors involved, which we may tend to miss. You may be a fan of a song from a Gujarati Movie or love the VFX from a South Indian mythological fiction, however, in the process of falling in love with a face value, the actual artist who made that possible loses their identity.
Match My [Talent] is one such organization that is mapping the entire country to form a community, a safe space for those who may go unnoticed or do not have adequate networks to make it big. It employs technology just like any OTT in the conversation while taking into consideration real-time data from across the country. Not only does an actor from West Bengal who can speak in multiple languages exist in our community but a casting director from Delhi who understands the struggles of actors & helps them grow bigger each day exist.