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NEW DELHI : Comedy and light-hearted programming are becoming a big attraction for audiences watching content on streaming services.

The top two most popular genres for SVoD (subscription video-on-demand) audiences are comedy and suspense, according to Ormax OTT Audience Report 2022. Ormax Media provides tracking, testing and analytics-led consulting services for film, OTT and television.

Comedy and suspense thriller genres enjoy strong appeal among SVoD audiences, said Keerat Grewal, partner, Ormax. According to another recent Ormax report, the second season of Panchayat was the third most watched Hindi language show in the first half of 2022 with 29.6 million views. Panchayat is a comedy-drama series created by The Viral Fever and is the most liked show in the time frame considered by Ormax. Rishi Kapoor’s Sharmaji Namkeen (12.7 million) on Prime Video and Abhishek Bachchan-starrer Dasvi (10.4 million), both comedies, are among the most watched movies in the first six months.

With comedy emerging as the top most liked genre, OTT platforms are going all out to expand their libraries. While Amazon Prime Video released the third season of its reality show Comicstaan last month, its ad-supported service MiniTV has brought out a new comedy show called Case Toh Banta Hai. Voot Select has launched a series called The Great Weddings of Munnes, while ShemarooMe sees great traction for its comedy series in Gujarati. Comedy not only cuts across age groups but also makes for snackable programming and has sustained interest even after the pandemic lockdowns were lifted.

“Everyone loves to binge on a light comedy show or movie. They are a quick watch and usually are 20-30 minutes in duration versus dramas that can go on for 40-50 minutes per episode. The viewership is across target groups, and a lot of it is universal," said Rachita Arya, senior vice-president, content at OML Entertainment, creators of Comicstaan.

For instance, a lot of middle-aged men in India have spoken about watching Netflix romantic comedy Emily in Paris in India even though the target audience is young women, said Arya, who sees viewership for Comicstaan span age groups, cities and gender.

Yet Grewal feels the genre is underserved in the Indian SVoD market despite its appeal cutting across genders. “One of the key reasons for this gap in the comedy genre is that writing comedy is more difficult than writing drama or serious content. Hence platforms will need to invest in the writer ecosystem to get more comedy shows in the mix," Grewal added. 

Hiren Gada, chief executive officer at Shemaroo Entertainment, which owns the ShemarooMe OTT platform, said comedy comes with very high repeat value and is the mainstay as far as the service’s Gujarati language content is concerned.

 “In Gujarati, the key programming genre is comedy, and we see viewership for it among individuals as well as families," said Gada. ShemarooMe has seen traction for comedies like Chhello Divas, Shu Thayu? Vaat Vaat Ma and Vaat Vaat Ma Returns, Goti Soda (seasons one and two), Poori Paani and Yamraj Calling. The platform has an original called What the Fafda lined up, besides the premiere of popular movies like Vickida No Varghodo and Naadi Dosh.

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