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Indian diaspora remains sustainable audience for OTTs

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MUMBAI: With the Indian diaspora spread out all over the world, media enterprises have found them to be a worthy group to target. Over-the-top (OTT) players, especially, are finding the diaspora audience a rewarding pursuit. Some platforms use Bollywood to grab their attention while others are targeting millennial audiences with original content.

One the one hand you have players that believe in stock content. Yupp TV has been at the forefront of targeting Indian diaspora through catch-up content. Realising the scarcity of Indian entertainment content for the expat community, Uday Reddy founded the venture. While there is scepticism about whether audiences would pay for catch-up content, Yupp TV has relied on SVOD model for the diaspora and a freemium one in India.

Another OTT platform, Spuul, which also has a large presence outside India, takes the help of popular Bollywood titles to attract them. According to its own viewership statistics, the Indian diaspora has a strong inclination to watch Bollywood movies during leisure time.

On the other hand, a new bunch of players wants to break out of the monotony of catch-up and Bollywood content. Arre, a youth platform launched by ex-TV18 execs B Saikumar and Ajay Chacko, gets a good handful of viewers from abroad for both videos and articles.

“Our show Aisha which is primarily a sci-fi thriller/drama is among the most consumed. It is also one of the most awarded shows from India, internationally. Our other shows like Real High (adventure travel reality), Official Chukiyagiri/ CEOgiri also see a lot of international audiences. We also get a lot of readers on our articles internationally,” Arre co-founder Chacko says.

Chacko feels that the younger audiences want original quality programming of modern India and not the staid staples like Bollywood and catch up.

Holding the same belief, ALTBalaji CMO Manav Sethi feels that content must be unique to get people to pay. “It is very important for today’s consumers who consume content on mobile, paying for data, to watch differentiated things,” he says.

While it comes to market outside India, the US is definitely a promising one, followed by the Gulf countries. For Arre, the US is the largest market outside of India while for ALTBalaji both come in the list of top-five markets. Canada, with a huge number of Punjabi people, is also an attractive market. In fact, on Spuul, other than Hindi content, Punjabi is the highest consumed content.

Depending on the dominant diaspora language in the region, platforms tweak content accordingly. For example, if Canada has more Punjabi people, there will be more Punjabi content for Canada. ALTBalaji released a Tamil show Maya Thirrai, which got traction in Singapore and the UAE, while its Bengali show Dhimaner Dinkaal received got a great response in Bangladesh. Chacko reveals that through YuppTV, Arre gets significant traction for shows, especially the ones dubbed in Telegu among the Indian American diaspora in the east and west coasts of the US.

Two neighbouring countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, also demand Indian content. The similarity in culture, language, dialect, lifestyle and moreover, the pattern of same entertainment content paves the way for OTT players to explore the business there.

These audiences are a good way for OTT players to also get some revenue since most of them only have SVOD or TVOD options. Players say that the diaspora is more likely to pay for content that keeps them connected to their roots. The average revenue per user is higher outside the country. They also have a huge repertoire of choices with good quality in international OTT platforms.

Some platforms want to go beyond the diaspora communities and reach out to other global audiences as well.

“So far, it has been a sustainable model for us, as we have been working on multiple verticals of content but, going forward, we will be paying more attention to India than last year and separate content for specific markets,” Spuul content head Girish Dwibhashyam says.

Due to the diversity of the diaspora, there is no one formula fits all solution. Content creators have to rely on good quality original content to keep these audiences glued.

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