First, some data. Indians consume the most amount of video content in all of Asia Pacific—about 12.3 hours a week—as per a recent study by Akamai Technologies. Pair that with the fact that we spend nearly 30% of our time on entertainment, according to a recent Omidyar Network report.
Over the last 12-18 months, thanks to access to cheaper data and penetration of devices, India has become one of the world’s largest data guzzlers. At least according to Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani. And, if trends are anything to go by, monthly data consumption per smartphone user is expected to grow nearly 5x from 3.9 GB in 2017 to 18 GB in 2023.
How’s this for a perfect storm moment? When every single factor comes together?
There’s a palpable surge on the creators’ side. YouTube claims to have over 100,000 content creators in India, of which around 4000 creators have over 100,000 subscribers. Over 200 of these channels, according to the company, have crossed the 1 million subscriber mark. Facebook has, over the last few months, been quietly on-boarding content creators for its to-be-launched Watch—an original video offering, with a focus on long-form, premium and professionally produced content. All of which only means one thing: 2018 could be the year of content glut.
As Ajay Nair, COO of Only Much Louder, says, “A lot more content will be made this year than last year. About three to four times more.” While that is good news, what could also change is the type of content that will be created. “The big theme is that we’re moving towards binge shows, thanks to Netflix. When we make shows, we ensure that the first episode is compelling enough, hooks people to watch it in one go.”
What is also likely to emerge is an increase in “hybrid” or multilingual content, stories with multiple languages and primarily consumed by the metro audiences. So, for instance, Narcos (Netflix) is an example of how hybrid content has worked globally. If the storytelling is good, people may not care about the language the show is made in.
This should be music to the ears of Google and Facebook (and platforms like Amazon Prime Video), who, through their respective offerings—YouTube and Watch (to be launched)—are only expected to solidify their hold on the content supply chain, making everyone else, a “media company working for Google and Facebook”. Or so says Sameer Pitalwalla, co-founder and CEO of Culture Machine, one of India’s leading multi-channel networks or MCNs.