There has been a remarkable emergence of viewers that are looking for good entertainment at a time of their convenience and at a good price. In a bid to break out of the box of linear consumption of entertainment shows, they turn to the internet. The number of online video viewers in India was close to 60 million till July 2014 according to Statista. Out of this a majority 14.2 million were male viewers in the age bracket of 15-24 years. While female viewers in the same age bracket were 8.5 million. The age bracket of 25-34 years also had a lot of online video viewers with the male audience consisting of 13.8 million and women 8.4 million.
In 2014 over 23 billion minutes of videos online were watched each month by Indians and an average user watched 432 minutes of video in a month. According to report recently released by Ideate Labs an average internet user in India spends 88% more time on sites with videos and 70% of marketing professionals report that video converts better than any other mediums online.
Most of the producers of these shows started off two years ago with small comedy shows and series which would be based on spoofs and a take on things the Indian audience could relate to. However, many of them now have moved on to creating drama shows with story lines (which the Indian television channels may not have explored) using the same quality of production as on TV. The Viral Fever (TVF) which has created may shows in the past came up with a drama show last year called ‘Permanent Roommates’ got an average of 1.3 million views per episode on their YouTube channel and the five episode of the series had collected over eight million viewers. The company is now set to launch another drama series called Pitchers early this June based on the rising startup culture developing in India. It currently has over 1 million subscribers on their YouTube channel with 12 flagship shows which have videos released every few weeks.
Another web-series which has been recently launched with the collaboration of Pechkas Pictures and ScoopWhoop called “Baked” is on the lines of college graduates deciding to start a venture but who end up goofing up things along the way. Such are the shows that have started to mushroom which look to cater to the taste of the youth.
Companies such as TVF and AIB turned out to be the most watched video content on YouTube in India as per statistics released by Google this year. TVF also represented India in the first ever Global Creator’s Summit in New York where they along with others around the world shared their practices and successes.
“As of now the idea is to be a studio which produces the best of shows. Today out of the 100 people we have in TVF, 80 of them want to be film makers. So we intend to be a like a studio which can create something like the Avengers and Mad Max and that is something that we will create. The idea is to create the best content experiences,” says Arunabh Kumar, Founder & Group CEO, TVF. He further added, “Wherever the audiences are we will be there. Nobody is there on television that is why we are not on TV. At least our audience is definitely not on television.”
So do these shows gain a lot of attraction from brands? With regards to this Kumar says they have worked with over 40 brands. “If you watch 140 videos you will see at least 40-50 brands integrated into the story well. Permanent Roommates had CommonFloor, Pitchers has Kingfisher, we did Airtel Tech Conversations with My Dad, Duracell Office Romance Wars, P&G Head & Shoulders Chai Sutta Chronicles, etc. We have been a pioneer in doing branded content online since we did Emotional Atya Charge with FreeCharge.com and that was the first long form advertisement in the country which went viral. The first ever proof of concept that a brand would give you money to integrate and you can make your own content happened on TVF. The main reason being when I started TVF Media Labs it was started as branded content company. For two years I worked on various brands and TVF was very popular in agencies as a small boutique place for doing branded content.”
These companies also receive advertising revenues from YouTube for the advertising on the videos. So can we expect a lot more brands to choose online series than TV shows?
According to media planner on the condition of anonymity said that many brands will take some time before they advertise on online shows as the problem lies with having a proper metrics system in place on the par with television. He points out that while in brand integrations of TV we can monitor every second and know the exact number of people watching the show when the brand was shown, it is not the case in online video content. Though there are numerous views of certain series they do not know if the whole show has been watched or half the show. He further says that much needs to be done in terms of creating metrics for brand recall for such online video content. He also pointed out that the brands attracted to advertise on these shows are the ones such as ecommerce sites and the like which are looking at targeting the youth audience.
Having such kind of a metric system for online shows though maybe a valid point only if there are several brands integrating their products in a single video or episode, but with one brand integrating itself into the content or show, like many of them do right now, it doesn’t seem like much of problem for brands.
Shekhar Banerjee, SVP & Head of Madison Media – Infinity & Pinnacle said, “While all the trends around consumer adaption and duality of screens suggest strong growth for online consumption of shows, yet a lot needs to be done when it comes to quality of content and storytelling. In India we are yet to a see serious investment in the line of Netflix. AFPs (advertiser funded programs) in the digital space is led by 1-2 minutes videos specific to brand brief, however for investing in long format shows we need to see better production quality, better storytelling and better bandwidth.”
When it comes to production quality, some of the online companies have taken the steps to create their shows with the production quality of that used on television so that viewers don’t find any difference. Kumar said that there is a myth or misconception among many people that shows created online produced cheaper in comparison to TV shows. The costs he said are even more for production of their shows in comparison. “The kind of budgets we have for our one episode is 6-7 times that of a television episode. While we do not produce anything cheaply, the impact we get in Rs.1 lakh is equal to what people can get in Rs.5 lakh. But that does not mean that we will do it in Rs.1 lakh, we do charge Rs.5 lakh because it was what you would be paying anyway,” he said.