New Delhi: After dabbling with online music and short-form video content for close to a decade, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Pvt. Ltd has joined the original web programming universe.

The streaming platform is ready to launch its first full-fledged web series on 6 June. The crime drama, Damaged, will star Hindi and Marathi movie actors Amruta Khanvilkar and Amit Sial. It will be followed by two dramas and a comedy. Each season will have 10-15 episodes of 22-25 minutes each.

“We are a digital media platform, so it was logical for us to move to original programming to create a differentiation and provide a unique reason for people to come to our platform," said Neeraj Roy, managing director and CEO, Hungama Digital Media.

Hungama feels the adoption of good-quality storytelling on digital platforms will now happen sooner. Its distribution network with Vodafone and Idea as partners will allow the content to be disseminated across varied platforms.

However, the firm has joined the original content bandwagon at a time when the market is already cluttered. According to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment industry report 2017, there are currently over 30 video OTT platforms in India. “It really just boils down to exclusivity and differentiation," said Girish Menon, co-head, media and entertainment, KPMG India.

“When everyone has access to similar types of movie and television content, and there are so many platforms, there are two ways of doing that."

The first, Menon said, would be to acquire content that is of significant interest, such as new, big-ticket movies or sporting leagues such as the Indian Premier League (IPL). Since that is both rare and expensive, the other way is to create content that you can have creative control on and that helps you catch customer attention.

With the easy availability of 4G services, cheaper mobile data and broadband plans, industry experts emphasize that OTT content has to cater to wide demographics now. Abneesh Roy, senior vice-president at Edelweiss Securities, said the youth has already shifted to digital platforms for the freedom of time and choice they provide and the next four years will see these services garner even greater market share.

“Our next attempt is going to be more vernacular stories," Roy said adding that the first four shows would be in a mix of Hindi and English. “But to begin with for now, the consumer will be able to follow some of these stories in other languages through subtitles on our platform."

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