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Regional content on ALTBalaji to constitute 15% of show hours

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MUMBAI: The year 2017 has witnessed the phenomenal growth of regional languages, such as Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi and Bengali, over Hindi and English. OTT players like ALTBalaji, Viu, Amazon, SonyLIV, Voot, Hotstar, Netflix, and YuppTV have taken a deep dive into offering regional content this year.

ALTBalaji CMO Manav Sethi observes that though English is a niche audience in India, most competitors aren’t focusing on originals beyond Hindi. “We realised that consumption from non-HSM has been growing where people watched these shows with subtitles. We have also noticed traffic coming from states and cities where these languages are predominant. Then we started to integrate the ‘potential’ universe from a marketing point of view to the ‘consumption’ universe and that is when interesting patterns and trends started to emerge. At that point, we started to invest in creating these stories in languages apart from Hindi as there is latent willingness to consume and pay for it, too.”

ALTBalaji has released its first Tamil show Maya Thirrai with 16 episodes. Not only did it get audiences from Tamil Nadu but even Tamil-speaking population from Singapore and Malaysia. Even the Bengali original Dhimaner Dinkaal’s trailer garnered traction from Dhaka. “In the next four to six quarters, we will launch originals in more languages. 15 per cent of our total show hours will be regional content and we are heavily investing in it,” adds Sethi.

ALTBalaji has already launched its comedy show Standup in various regional languages like Marathi, Gujarati and Punjabi. Now, it has announced dubbing of some of the most popular original shows like Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat, Dev DD, Bewafaa Sii Wafaa, Romil and Jugal and The Test Case in Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil languages for the regional audience.

OTT giants believe South Indian languages have the biggest growth possibility and revenue potential. Sethi ascribes the highest revenue potential to the Tamil market because it has a higher payment curve, affluent audiences who are also educated and the mobile uptake is more.

Viu is focusing on the Telugu-speaking regions with shows such as Cinema Pichollu, Pelli Gola and Pilla. Voot hasn’t tapped any new language yet but is working on three regional series. Amazon Prime has a line-up of many new Hindi originals that will be dub in multiple languages like Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali. It has already released some of the regional language blockbusters like Arjun Reddy, VIP2, Nene Raju Nene Mantri, Dhananjoy, Bhikariand others soon after their theatrical release. SonyLiv is also looking for an expansion in Marathi and Gujarati languages and it has started looking at south Indian and Bengali language now.

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