Digital video platforms are not just targeting urban consumers living in metro cities, but are reaching out to the consumers living in tier 2 and 3 markets and even rural India. While new kid on the block, ShemarooMe, is specifically targeting smaller markets with its devotional and other region-specific content, Eros Now last year partnered with BSNL, which essentially caters to smaller markets, to distribute its platform.
Eros Now recently partnered with the US-based tech start-up, Veriown, to reach out to rural India. Veriown has created a solar-powered battery kit in order to enable the rural masses to reduce the use of kerosene to light their homes. "They wanted to create kerosene lamp replacement by doing a solar-powered battery, which would provide LED lighting. They also went across villages across the country and offered the farmers farming videos through the same battery pack. The farmers said they need movies instead, and hence came in Eros Now," says Ali Hussein, COO, Eros Digital.
The battery pack, says Hussein is currently being test-marketed in five markets in Uttar Pradesh, after which it will be rolled out in other parts of the state, followed by Rajasthan and other adjoining states. "The larger play for us is that it offers a distribution touch point to homes that can't afford to buy TVs," explains Hussein. The battery box has a provision for a SIM card, so eventually, Eros Now will also be able to monetise its content. The battery box, which is currently being distributed free, will come at a nominal cost over a period of time.
So are these platforms creating content specifically for these consumers? A bulk of the rural consumers will opt for Eros Now not so much for its edgy originals, but more for its film library. ShemarooMe apart from its library of Bollywood content has created verticals for Marathi, Gujarati and Punjabi. It is also creating original content in these languages. The platform also has a devotional vertical. In March this year, the platform curated a 30-day series on Kumbh Mela.
While the likes of Eros Now and Shemaroo seem to have a clear mass market strategy, one is also going to see the big daddies of digital entertainment, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Hotstar following suit. In fact, they are already moving in that direction by acquiring regional films for their respective platform. To create scale in a market like India one has to have a mass market strategy.
The OTT strategy is beginning to pan out pretty much the way cable television did over a decade ago. Most broadcasters launched with a bouquet of Hindi and English channels, but regional today has become the mainstay for all of them.
The big OTT platforms will have to sooner or later increase their focus on regional markets. And, the audiences out there are more than ready to consume good content.