Rise In Regional Languages

Advancements in technology and hardware have made digital media a viable and popular prospect for consumers

India is a land of great diversity as it harbours several unique languages and cultures spread across diverse regions. Before the advent of digital media, people had few options vis-à-vis content relating to their local languages. The advancements in technology and hardware, especially over the last decade, have made digital media a viable and popular prospect for millions of consumers. This period has also coincided with the boost in the availability and consumption of regional content as people’s preferences have shifted from conventionally available media sources to digital platforms. 

The digital video space has gained immense popularity and offers a plethora of engaging channels that cover topics ranging from news, entertainment, sports, politics and more. Although this space is dominated by content on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, etc., there has also been a great deal of innovation and content development by digital OTT platforms. The demand for content in regional languages has been a driving force behind some of the most popular creations in the last decade across platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar. India’s video OTT market is currently valued at about $1.5 bn and estimated to touch $12.25 bn in revenues by 2030. In addition, several indigenous content-streaming platforms have gained massive popularity due to a wide variety of subjects covered through this space.

Meanwhile, consumption has been growing in recent years due to multiple factors such as greater mobile penetration after the swift ascent of Jio and the steady rise of OTT consumption that was accelerated due to captive audiences who remained homebound as a result of the nationwide lockdown. Moreover, the impending launch of 5G is another factor that is poised to drive nationwide consumption, augmenting the number of first-time consumers of digital content. These trends will also reinforce the demand for content that is more specific and reflective of people’s lives and aspirations at a level they can relate to. This implies a much wider audience will be available for regional content in the coming years. According to EY estimates, time spent online on video platforms is going to shift massively towards regional languages, increasing from 37% to 50% by 2025

In general, media networks across the country have understood the importance of catering to this evolving ethos and landscape. ABP Network too has realised the criticality of being proactive and innovative in catering to regional trends and preferences. Over the last few years, the Network has undertaken large-scale capacity development to introduce the highest quality content in regional languages. The regional offerings include ABP Ananda, ABP Majha, ABP Asmita, ABP Ganga, ABP Sanjha and the recently launched regional news portals - ABP Nadu and ABP Desam. These have quickly garnered support and praise from both consumers and industry experts for engaging content that is reflective of the local audience’s tastes. The overwhelming response to these platforms has justified the investments and initiatives undertaken by ABP Network. 

Significantly, the meteoric rise in user adoption of online video platforms has created lucrative opportunities for many youngsters who have achieved success and fame because of their content’s high viewership. ‘Influencers’ – to use the popular term – have received a fillip via video-streaming platforms such as YouTube and ShareChat, which help them engage with local audiences and create an online community. Acknowledging the role of regional languages, ShareChat permits users to post content in 15 languages. 

The revenue opportunities from digital video platforms is also a huge driver for more people to take this up as a viable option and develop unique content. Improvements in our cellular and internet infrastructure coupled with high-quality portable video recording devices have reduced the burden and costs associated with traditional studio production setups. Furthermore, the revenues are more democratised as they increase proportionally to the number of people who engage with content directly. This is an added advantage for both the content creators and advertisers as they can make business decisions based on clear analytical data. 

Moving forward, upcoming efforts in the media firmament will need to accord due recognition to the regional space to enjoy long-lasting nationwide success. The focus on regional will hold true for all digital offerings, including audio, videos, vlogs and podcasts, which will ensure more traction for them. 

The importance of podcasts cannot be overlooked. Typically in a conversational tone, podcasts can be extremely engaging for listeners and impart knowledge about specific subjects, industries, etc. From news and talk shows to lessons on self-improvement, there is no dearth of content for all listeners.

The transition from English and Hindi to regional languages and dialects is now gaining an inevitable momentum of its own. Networks that heed and adapt to these trends will thrive for years to come.

The Author is Rama Paul, Sr. VP, Marketing & Marketing Services, ABP Network

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.