Media & Entertainment News

Local languages to dominate ads, OTT and TV


New Delhi: Regional language content, across television, OTT (over-the-top) streaming services, advertising and social media, is all set to emerge as the key theme for 2021.

According to the latest Ficci EY media and entertainment industry report, the share of regional content will increase to 60% of TV consumption in 2025 from around 55% in 2020 and to around 50% of OTT consumption from 30% in 2019.

New regional language channels were introduced last year, a trend that media experts said will continue even as the English and Hindi genres may slowdown. Marathi music channel Zee Vajwa, Enterr10 Television’s Dangal Kannada and Enterr10 Rangeela in Bhojpuri were launched last year.

“Regional markets have tremendous potential and scope with many of them underserved that poses a viable opportunity for expansion to networks like Enterr10 that are keen to expand their presence beyond the Hindi-speaking belt,” Arpit Machhar, head of marketing, Enterr10 Television Network said in an earlier interview to Mint.

The covid-19 lockdown also saw foreign OTT firms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video ramp up libraries across multiple Indian languages. Existing language specific streaming players expanded their footprint, while new ones aha Video in Telugu were launched. Marathi film producer Akshay Bardapurkar is also floating a Marathi language video streaming service Planet Marathi.

Once limited to dubbed TV commercials, advertising in regional languages is also coming of age. The Ficci- EY report said as internet growth is fuelled by regional subscribers, the share of language advertising will grow. Eventually, 50% ads will be made in regional languages followed by Hindi (47%) and only 3-4% in English. This is in alignment with YouTube’s first regional Ads Leaderboard Report that said the top 10 most-watched advertisements in the second half of 2020 were in regional languages.

Karthik Srinivasan, a communications strategy consultant, said brands have realised that dubbing Hindi or English ads in local languages alone wouldn’t work anymore. Even in print, brands have actively started to make small local language additions to their ads or trying to write local language scripts in English.

“This could be because people are asserting themselves in their native languages, often tagging brands on social media platforms to highlight the lack of local language nuance in the advertisements. In an English newspaper, the probability of local language ads standing out is way higher than Hinglish. Writing local language ads in English script is also a nice way to connect with young consumers in regional markets because most of them can speak the language, but can’t read and write it,” he noted.

Recently, Tata Tea has produced a television campaign capturing various dialects of Malayalam targeted at the Kerala market. Meanwhile, Zomato and Domino’s have been releasing local language print ads across various markets.

The theme of “Local first” is also emerging strongly on digital and social media platforms, with India witnessing greater demand and consumption of both local language content and local information. In its Year in search 2020 report, Google said more than 90% of YouTube users prefer watching content in Indic languages. That regional languages were popular was evident in people using Google Translate 17 billion times to render web pages in Indian languages. In addition, one-third of Google Assistant users in the country are also using it in Indic languages.

Social media platform Koo positioned as the desi version of Twitter, launched in 2020, will foray into all official 22 Indian languages this year, said co-founder and CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna.

“Our main focus is the localisation of the product and introducing new features to make the platform engaging for local language users,” he said. However, Srinivasan pointed out that the Koo positioning of pandering to local language users is a marketing gimmick because platforms are not local, it is the input mechanism that needs to be local.

“Long before Koo came, Google introduced a keypad for Android phones in multiple local languages which simply meant that one can express themselves by typing in their native language online,” said Srinivasan. According to him, audio and video have become the easier way for regional language users to express themselves online.

“TikTok was a path breaking phenomenon in that sense as it made it cool for users to talk in one’s own language,” he added. “I believe that the way forward for digital platforms is not input (text) but voice which is catching on. We see that through voice assistants — Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri. I wouldn’t be surprised if these tech companies invest in these services to power more Indic languages.”

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