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The digital content boom - trends in 2019

Regional content to play a massive role.

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When is the last time you followed a full show on TV? With the advent of digital streaming platforms, it’s something that is hard to recall for most people. There was a time when having access to digital content in itself was exciting. But in this user-driven world and the dynamics that come with it, we are now way beyond that. The way audiences consume videos is changing at a fast pace, with new technologies and constant innovations being introduced in the same year. With every new invention comes the scope for innovation, and the subsequent need to make this new concept more user-friendly. Some brands have perfected the art of researching resulting in their products to become an instant hit! Others have taken a different route, that of almost dropping a new interface out of thin air and then tweaking it according to ‘what users want’.

Either way, it’s bound to always be about the users, who just seek something ‘new’ every time they log in an entertainment platform through their phones. Either through content or through experience, users today are looking for something fresh and novel in terms of either content or experience, and are quick to reject contents or platforms that offer none. Considering the same, here’s a look into what you can expect in 2019 from the most favoured form of content consumption:

Brand videos backed by purpose

People are more aware than ever before, and they don’t hesitate to voice themselves online. With the rise in the number of mediums to express oneself, you can talk about current issues on your status, an Instagram story, a twitter poll or even a GIF. Videos, have the ability and the capacity to showcase issues more than most other mediums. Brands are noticing the kind of impact videos with a purpose have on their audiences, and there is a large scope for worldwide discussions to arise from the same. Businesses see the scale and impact caused by videos of this kind and aim to define their stance and responsibilities through them. Be it campaigns to save water, or on global warming or the right to vote, video content with current relevance strikes a chord with audiences and is here to not only stay, but to grow.

Device compatibility a necessity

Smartphone penetration is increasing at a speed never imagine before and video content accounts for the highest amount of data consumption. Having access to internet data and Wi-Fi almost everywhere we go has facilitated the increased use of mobiles to consume video content. But times have moved beyond when it used to be a thrill just to be able to watch video content on your phone. Now, it is all about making that viewing experience even better, by way of customisation or the norms that define comfort. Platforms such as Instagram’s IGTV have already accommodated and steered this trend, by making it exclusively for vertically-shot videos that are full-screen. Smartphones are also where people are most open to watching ads. According to a survey by data analytics company MoMagic Technologies, 40 percent of Indians prefer to watch video, even advertisement videos on their mobile phones over other platforms.

Bigger role to play for regional language content

The surge of digital content in the past few years has opened up many avenues, a major one of which is for vernacular languages to break into the mainstream. This is thanks to the wider reach of online streaming to consumers from regions other than Tier I cities. A 2017 report by KPMG and Google, found that there were 234 million internet users consuming content in Indian languages and 175 million English users in 2016. The report further stated that the period between 2016 and 2021 will see 9 out of 10 new internet users using local languages. Platforms such as Voot and Hoichoi already have a wide user base, leading the way for vernacular languages to be at par with the rest.

Better content value and storylines

Gone are the days when the “Big Screen” was seen as graduating from the “Small Screen”. With great storylines compelling audiences to get hooked onto shows on OTT platforms, native content is becoming increasingly popular. Both well-known as well as newcomer actors, directors and icons are getting more and more involved with shows and movies online, a thrill for audience thanks to engaging storylines and better production values. The focus is shifting from the “who” to the “what”, and overall quality is taking precedence. This is something that we can expect to see more of on OTT/streaming platforms in the rest of 2019.

Virtual Reality (VR) put to better use in marketing

Out of the many new developments in technology, VR has been talked about more than it has been implemented. The industries that VR is currently used in are limited to those such as gaming and leisure. However, there is great scope for the use of VR to heighten user interest by giving them a sense of control and involvement across industries. Somewhat like a video-game concept of controlling the story with the moves you make, interactive viewing experiences are on the rise. Digital content platforms have already begun using this tactic, the most popular of which has been Netflix’s Bandersnatch. It is an interactive viewing experience, where audiences get to choose the storyline as they watch it. This also means there are several possible endings and storylines, which piques user curiosity and engagement altogether.

Transcripts and annotations to boost video content

Almost all TV service providers have subtitles on their English entertainment channels, most without an option. Apart from these, even most video content platforms have their default settings as subtitles/closed captions “On”. As a result, most consumers have gotten into the habit of watching video content, whether movies, shows or music, with subtitles. Not only does this provide clarity in the AV experience, but it also helps online content be found and presented to the ‘right’ audiences. Platforms such as Google and YouTube use algorithms to track keywords, and having descriptions and transcripts embedded into the content helps build solid Search Engine Optimisation. Additionally, closed captions help when one is watching videos in a noisy environment, as well as when they want or need to watch video content on mute. In 2019, we will see brands incline towards having their content aligned for videos with sound and soundless videos alike.

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