Prior to the release of ‘Blue’, touted as the most expensive Bollywood movie ever made, Hungama Digital Media in association with Samsung generated enough buzz with ‘The Blue Blaze’, a PC and mobile game, as well as digital promotions of the movie.
Earlier this month saw biking enthusiasts get the chance to travel across India, thanks to the India Bike Rally - Bharat Ki Khoj initiative launched by BigAdda in association with Yamaha.
In.com, too, launched Fantastic Five, an interactive online travel series about the journey of five travelers setting out on an adventure to South Africa.
Social networking site ibibo.com joined hands with Counter Culture Records for ‘The Rising Rock Stars of India’, an online platform that encourages fresh talent and emerging rock bands across India. Every month, one band was given an opportunity to record a professional album, which was then marketed by ibibo across the web and mobile platforms. Earlier this year, ibibo.com had announced the launch of a new application – iHunk – for young men across India to showcase their talent, and three of them are said to have got a role in a film called ‘Aisha’, starring Abhay Deol and Sonam Kapoor.
Ten Sports, too, launched a free live streaming cricket portal in strategic partnership with NBC Universal Digital Solutions, a digital subsidiary of NBC, powered by digital media platform Vdopia.
These are but few examples of the fast growing trends seen in the online entertainment space in India. Online reality shows or online entertainment in India is not a new phenomenon, however, the rapid growth that this space is seeing, along with the various innovative initiatives, make industry experts believe that the Internet would emerge as the new television.
But how sustainable is online entertainment and how can this be made economically viable? exchange4media finds out more on the future trends from industry players.
Growing popularity of online entertainment
Sunil Nair, CEO, Nautanki.tv, explained, “More and more people in the age-group of 16-35 years are spending their time online, and much of their need for entertainment is fulfilled by what is available on the Internet. Look at the number of videos being consumed out of India and one can get a sense of how big this medium is going to be in the near future.”
He further said, “The future is there for everyone to see. Online live streams will redefine the kind of content that is available online and will go where niche programming is possible. While TV channels can focus on global ones, the smaller localised ones will get a platform from being able to broadcast themselves through a platform. Monetisation is already happening in an aggressive manner. Only just recently Videocon sponsored a live event that was streamed on the Nautanki.tv network.”
Saurabh Bhatia, Co-founder and Chief Business Officer, Vdopia Inc, remarked, “Yes, the online entertainment market in India is gaining popularity and is growing in a huge way. If the content is good and has the ability to lure the audience, then people are willing to consume the content wherever it is available.”
“Online entertainment can be divided into two categories – one is regular entertainment, day to day basis; and second category is event-based programming. On the day to day basis category, monetisation happens as it is a direct function of quality of content and the kind of number you are delivering. For event-based programming, sponsorship is the right model,” he added.
According to Punyashlok Bhakta, Marketing Head, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment, “There is a fair amount of growth in the online entertainment space, however, the patterns are changing and India as a nation is ranked among the top 5 in sites like YouTube despite having low penetration. Gaming, too, is on an upward swing. The key trend here is about video consumption and that is going to be the key driver of the Internet, and as 3G is launched and broadband becomes cheaper, it will only give a further boost to the Internet as a whole.”
Vivek Bahl, Associate VP, ibibo, said, “We’ve been projecting ibibo as India’s first talent based social network and the talent is focused on modeling, photography, singing, dancing, and now acting. The reason why we moved in such a big way and what marketers are realising is that India, especially in smaller towns, have youth who are extremely confident, completely self possessed, and they are all looking for that one platform that can give them a big start to their careers. What we also found out was that these youth are coming online in large numbers and showcasing their talents and, of course, there are larger pools of audience who are viewing these talents. Fifty-five per cent of our users are from Tier II and III towns.”
The road ahead
On the road ahead, Nautanki.tv’s Nair observed, “Availability of funding opportunities from the advertisers is a major road block to good content being available online. One of the major steps that need to be taken is to educate the media buyers that consumers who watch video online are there to watch the video and not click on their ads. Internet and VOD viewing will become the norm over the next two years. WiMax and 3G will change the paradigm. Although television will remain the elder brother, online TV will be a reality that everyone will have to accept. The distinct trends that I see in the online space are niche content, specialised events, social media built around video and entertainment.”
Bhatia of Vdopia noted, “Some of the trends that I see are webcasting of key events like sporting events. I also believe the Internet will become the new television in the near future. Advertisers are beginning to demand innovation, and that’s where they will see a superior brand value and association. The concern, however, remains regarding further penetration of broadband in Tier II and III cities, which have begun. When 3G is launched, the Government should create an environment in the market that begins a price war in even the data services, as a result it will further boost the industry, and thirdly, what the online industry themselves have to do is meet the clients and explain the power of this medium. The advertisers want innovation by which they are able to capture their audience, which the Internet as a medium is all about.”