New Delhi: Even as it awaits its twelfth Hindi season, Endemol Shine India’s superhit reality show Bigg Boss has already returned for a second Tamil outing led by star anchor Kamal Haasan besides finding remakes in Malayalam, Kannada and Marathi. Quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati has found regional language versions in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, with a Bengali version just announced, while ZEE’s singing reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs has made inroads into the Tamil market. The trend has extended to fiction shows too with Ekta Kapoor’s Naagin being remade in Kananda.

To be sure, it always makes sense to customize and add to the relevance of an existing popular show. It gives broadcasters not just a shot at increasing viewership on both their television and digital platforms but exploiting existing successful IPs (intellectual properties) with added cultural nuance across the spectrum. In an earlier interview, Akash Banerji, head of marketing, partnerships and licensing, at VOOT, the video streaming platform operated by Viacom18, said the service had witnessed 200% increase in consumption over the last six months on the back of regional content, this included shows like Bigg Boss Kannada and Enga Veetu Mappillai, a matchmaking show on the lines of Rakhi Ka Swayamvar.

“A lot of broadcasters are taking successful concepts and remaking them in other languages. They’re also spending more to make multi-language shows," said Ravish Kumar, head, regional entertainment, Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd that operates a clutch of general entertainment channels under the Colors brand. “Regional is a huge and diverse audience. There has been a massive increase in the hours of original regional language programming, the quality of programming and production value is on par with any language now."

Navin Khemka, managing partner at Wavemaker India, a GroupM- owned integrated media agency agreed that regional television channels have come a long way from the time they only served as a repository for dubbed Hindi content to now getting their own news channels and high-ticket reality shows. “The difference really has come from the cost of investment in the last four to five years," Khemka said.

To be sure, the higher investment in regional content itself is a combination of growing advertising and viewership. For Bigg Boss Tamil that returned to screens last month, Chinese smartphone maker Vivo is presenting sponsor while Japan-based paints major Nippon Paints is the powered by sponsor and multiple brands like Colgate, Maggi and Haier have signed up as associates. ZEE’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs, meanwhile, has dairy firm Hatsun Agro as title sponsor.

Maarten Geraets, general manager—Foods for Nestlé India said regional media platforms are an important way to engage with consumers spread across various regions, states, cities and villages of India and connect with them. Kumar estimated the three-year CAGR (compound annual growth rate) for all regional market advertising to be 12.3% over FY ’14- FY ’17. The availability of new channels and quality content has been coupled with the fact that BARC has expanded its coverage of rural data, which has meant huge reach for regional language channels.

According to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment industry report 2017, languages like Tamil and Telugu witnessed 30% and 33% growth respectively in impressions from 2016 to 2017, compared to a 27% growth for Hindi. The top 10 channel genres accounted for 47% of total ad volumes.

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