There was a time when Hindi and English media platforms dominated the definition of mainstream. However, over the course of last decade this definition has lost its relevance. Especially with the rise of regional media players who have cast their spell on a national and even international scale.
If we take the example of TV and Print, a few years back major networks and publishers were considered best destinations for mass consumed content. However, the trend has changed. Now, regional players are equal stakeholders in the viewership and readership game. Taking the example of TV further, from local versions of international programmes to getting top class programming mix in genres like fiction and reality, regional TV players are competing with big networks and spending big money to keep the audiences hooked.
One of the biggest factors for this robust growth in regional TV networks and programming has been the growth of local advertising. Many experts believe that that the rate of growth of advertising in the regional space is higher compared to national networks. Big brands are using regional media to reach out to their consumers in a cost effective and highly targeted way.
Given this scenario, most of the national networks have ventured into the regional space and given a new meaning to vernacular content. Even new platforms like OTT are looking at regional in a big way. The recent launch of Star Sports Tamil language sports channel has further reinforced the growing clout of regional content.
Commenting on this growing regional trend, Alok Joshi, Managing Editor, CNBC-AWAAZ and CNBC-BAJAR stated, “This has more to do with local connect and coverage on issues relevant to the viewers. Even the political discourse on the regional channels, which may be considered ‘petty’ by the so-called national channels, is closer home and personalities more relatable, which contributes to viewers being glued. This may appear new in India, but in markets like the US, a city channel like NY1 in New York is watched more than any other news. With growing digitisation, hyper local content is definitely going to be in higher demand. Obviously, niche channels will have a space of their own.”
Speaking about the growing relevance of regional media properties, Manav Sethi, CMO, ALT Balaji, which recently launched its original Tamil series and plans to launch more language based content said, “With the advent of various formats of story-telling, individuals who have been consuming only a particular type of content are now evolving. They are demonstrating a shift towards acceptance of content which is not only of their regional language but also matches the mainstream parameters of global and new age. The expansion of Internet and smartphones, too, has increased consumption of regional content by audience. There is still a gap here and a huge potential could be tapped by introducing more regional content. Acknowledging this opportunity, we recently announced our first web series ‘Maya Thirrai’ marking ALTBalaji’s entry into regional entertainment. We aim to penetrate deeper pockets of regional markets by offering language shows. Hence, 25% of our web shows will be in non-Hindi languages including Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu, Gujarati, Punjabi etc.”
This rise of regional media is not limited to TV, Print or Digital. Even regional language films are underlining the power of the vernacular. The regional film, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, pulled in a box office record of almost Rs 16 billion by appealing to moviegoers across India. Dubbed into Hindi for nationwide appeal, the film was originally shot in Tamil and Telugu without the Bollywood star cast typically essential for a blockbuster hit.
Explaining how Star India was playing the regional game and making the most of this rise of regional genre, its spokesperson shared, “Domestic leagues such as Vivo Pro Kabaddi, Hero ISL and TNPL are garnering higher TV ratings than some of the mega global sports events. Tamil Nadu has multiple franchisees across sports leagues in Cricket (TNPL), Football (Chennaiyin FC), Badminton (Chennai Smashers) and now, has a franchisee in VIVO Pro Kabaddi as well. So, the appetite of this market, whether for a national level competition like a Vivo Pro Kabaddi or Hero ISL or a local level competition like TNPL, is there for everyone to see. Star Sports Tamil’s core objective is to give people more relevant regional sports content and in turn, through the channel, celebrate the unique Tamil culture. The channel is also a viable platform for advertisers and sponsors as it is an avenue for them to reach out to a niche audience which is well-engaged in quality curated content.”