Regional to be at the forefront of content

MUMBAI: The regional space in India is the new target for everyone. But what exactly is it that pulls content creators to divide themselves into India’s varied languages and will this fad stay in the future, too? The question was discussed in a FICCI Frames 2018 session titled ‘regional is the new mass media.’

The News Minute managing editor Dhanya Rajendran said that any market outside of Mumbai and Delhi is considered regional, which the national media has ignored for a long time while underestimating its potential. “In the last two years, with the advent of digital media, more and more media houses have started realising that there is a lot of readership not because of good journalism, but because they know that there are consumers in places such as Bengaluru, Vijayawada, Madurai and Vishakhapatnam consuming all kinds of content,” he said adding that he hoped that more digital spaces would spring up in Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Bihar in the next two to three years. “Our mainstream media will be forced to follow-up news stories that they were keeping in the backburner and looked down upon as regional stories,” he said.

Eminent sports columnist and journalist Ayaz Memon pointed out that sports was the classic example of a mass media product. “Football is the biggest sport in Europe, but there is a difference between the French, the Dutch and the English viewing the same match. Look at the regional newspapers like Manorama, Matrabhumi and Anand Bazaar Patrika. At one time, they were larger selling newspapers than the English ones. The easiest to penetrate has been sports because the language of sports is universal. The language of consumption of sports may differ from Tamil, Telugu and Kannada and consumers enjoy consuming the content in the language they easily understand.”  

Network18 has been prominent in venturing into the digital space. Its group president Avinash Kaul said, “Regional is dominating the entire space, the regional wave is here to stay and will continue to grow. We have around 270 regional channels out of 500 channels overall in BARC. The regional viewership is higher than the Hindi viewership and has a market share of 47 per cent. General entertainment channels (GEC) being the biggest attraction, regional GECs have 30 per cent more viewership than Hindi GECs. If we take a look at the advertisers, the regional market has seen an increase of 20 per cent in the last two years and around 3500 advertisers are exclusive to the regional market.”

Your Story managing editor Darlington Hector said that the news platform decided to branch out into the regional market in 2012-13 with Hindi, Tamil and Bangla. He said that in the late 90s, the English content consumption was around 80 per cent globally and the next decade around 2007-08 it dropped to about 27 per cent. English as a preferred language of consumption has been dropping in importance every decade and he sees that happening in the future as well. “The reason for this is the loss of credibility in the last few years and a good opportunity now for online digital platforms to express better. People do connect emotionally with the regional media today, which I am not seeing with the national media today. The television anchor has played a big role in destroying the credibility. The next 25 years will be the golden period for the regional languages of India, especially online,” he concluded.

Both broadcast and online platforms are vehemently marching into the country’s various languages. Hindi and English, which till now were the holders of the mediums, will slowly see viewership shift to people’s language of choice.

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