Regional streaming platforms improve their game with big budget shows in 2022

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New Delhi: Regional video streaming platforms specializing in content in specific languages ​​such as Bengali, Punjabi and Marathi, among others, said the year 2022 will see them raise their level with big shows. budget that target a family audience that now watches large web content – screen televisions.

Over-the-top (OTT) video services such as Neestream (Malayalam), Planet Marathi, Chaupal OTT (Punjabi) and Hoichoi (Bengali) have said they are looking to double both investment and content listings l next year, although they may not have deep pockets like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other overseas companies. However, they plan to integrate shows and movies from all genres and increase investments to retain the audience base they have gained during the two years of the pandemic, they said. Many have seen their audience triple since last year and could also diversify into languages ​​other than their core business.

“Our thinking is very clear, the Indian market is unique and each platform has its loyal user base. Our focus on one language helps us deliver more value to our customers, ”said Soumya Mukherjee, vice president, revenue and strategy at Bengali streaming service Hoichoi which plans to double its content budget in 2022 and targets 32 original shows. which include at least 10 shows created locally in Bangladesh.

“These shows will highlight stories that require a larger setting with high production values. We have already shot five and three are in production, ”Mukherjee added, naming titles such as Gora, Murders of the Mahabharrat, Srikanto, Tiktiki and Uttoran among others, to watch for next year. Hoichoi is also planning world premieres of 10 films which will air on the platform directly after theaters and ahead of television. Smart TVs have helped the platform gain traction with an older age group, 35 to 60, Mukherjee said.

Akshay Bardapurkar, Marathi film producer and founder of OTT Planet Marathi service agreed that the coming year will see his platform showcase projects with higher production values ​​in addition to improving its product experience with better features and more robust social media. “We now have viewer engagement information that will help us grow AVoD (video on demand advertising) offerings and integrate more brands. This will translate into big budget shows, “said Bardapurkar, whose platform is also in talks with US investors. OTT has focused on collaborations with popular Bollywood actors and studios. Planet Marathi plans to do so. release 25 web shows and 10 movies in 2022 and a few titles to come, includingfrom Pondicherry, Sunny, Sahela Re, Mi Punha Yein and Badlee.

True, media experts estimate that while niche OTT services currently spend around Rs. 50 crore per year on content and technology, they cannot match the financial power of the biggest platforms. However, their expertise lies in their understanding of the specific language market and its nuances, as many of them are supported by local film producers or broadcasters.

As foreign platforms like Netflix cut subscription prices, Sandeep Bansal, owner of Punjabi TV channel Pitaara TV and Chaupal OTT, said there was no competition as regional players were only responding. ” to the entertainment needs of the regional audience. “It is not possible for a regional OTT to compete with foreign giants because the objective is entirely different,” he said. Subscription to Chaupal TV, which has already registered five lakh of downloads, is already low and there will be more promotional discounts available to customers in the future, he said. Chaupal broadcasts content in three regional languages ​​- Punjabi, Haryanvi and Bhojpuri. In 2022, the platform plans two seasons of a show called Shahi Majra, in addition to films like Kade Haa Kade Naa, Umran Ch Ki Rakheya, Miss Tania, Ghoda Dhai Kadam, Sab Phadey Jaangey, Shagan, Vyah Da Laddu, Dj Waley Babu, Aaja Mexico Chaliye and Mull Di Janani.

Charles George, head of the Malayalam-focused Neestream OTT service, told Mint in a previous interview that instead of seeing themselves as competition with foreign players, regional OTTs focus more on regional viewers by providing them with a quality vernacular content. “In addition, there are many films of artistic value that do not always have a place on foreign OTTs. Neestream thrives on providing quality programming both in terms of story and screenplay as well as the technical aspects of production. There is no absolute requirement for a star cast over the bigger players, ”said George, whose platform aired the highly acclaimed drama. Great Indian cuisine earlier this year. The service saw more than four lakh downloads.

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