Home / Industry / Media /  Streaming apps spring up for niche audiences

NEW DELHI : As Indians adopt online entertainment in a big way, a bunch of new video streaming platforms has emerged to cater to specific niches or target groups.

DIY TV is targeted at kids, EORTV tells only LGBTQ stories, and BabaPlay is centred on Ambedkar’s Dalit ideology —services that realize they cannot compete with large platforms such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, and so pick small niches to meet special consumer interests.

“It is a proven system on television where there have always been specific genres like sports, kids or regional language channels," said Sanjiv Jaiswal, founder of Baba Play, also a writer and director of films such as Fareb, Anwar, Pranaam and Shudra-The Rising.

The platform that launched this December and hosts short videos, web series, films and audio narratives has streamed a show Ambedkar: The Legend based on events in the life of B.R. Ambedkar with Marathi and Hindi film actor Vikram Gokhale playing the lead role.

It is now ready with a thriller, Quota, which tells the story of a Dalit college student who faces discrimination. “If a platform tries to please all segments, it will end up not satisfying anybody. Specific, targeted programming is the only way out," Jaiswal added.

Deepak Pandey, chief executive officer, EORTV Media Pvt. Ltd, said a focus on a theme, in this case, the LGBT community, can still translate into varied genres like drama, thriller and horror that his platform is eyeing.

EORTV plans to put out two new shows every month, as metro audiences take to its content. Even DIY TV, a subscription video-on-demand platform owned by DIY.org, a transmedia firm in the learning space for kids, said it is trying to understand the customer to segment its content for children across age groups. Tripti Ahuja, co-founder and chief operating officer, said it is planning to introduce one show a week. Current shows include live-action, animation, fiction and non-fiction programmes in English, such as The Outsiders Club, Junk Rescue and Pets in Paradise.

“There is an audience for everything, and somebody needs to capture those eyeballs. Not all platforms are meant for wide reach, but even a niche audience base can be huge in India and give these services good bargaining power to eventually consolidate," said Mehul Gupta, co-founder and CEO at SoCheers, an independent digital agency.

Already India has services targeting specific segments: ALTBalaji looks at a predominantly small-town, Hindi-speaking audience in the heartland while NBC Universal-owned reality shows specialist Hayu targets the 18-54 age group with a skew towards women, said Gupta. “Bigger sharks will acquire smaller players, but this is a period that everyone should be looking at just user acquisition," he added.

“India is a very diverse market with culture, ethnicities and languages unlike any other. This population is increasingly getting connected to the Internet through cheap devices that are possibly reaching where even television couldn’t. Every business has to define its niche because there can’t be a single language of telling stories," said Aneesh Dev, founder-director of WAMINDIA (Wide Angle Media Pvt. Ltd), a content distribution company that has launched Dollywood Play, that premieres south Indian films dubbed in Hindi and targets tier-two and tier-three cities.

“If the niche is strong, it will keep audience hooked," said Dev, who expects the future of video-streaming services to be dominated by super-aggregators that can offer bundled bouquets.

The subscription video-on-demand market in India is set to grow 51% to reach 90-100 million users by 2022 on the back of cheaper data plans and increasing internet penetration and touch $13-15 billion by 2030, according to a report by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Boston Consulting Group. Data consumption has risen by 40-50 times since 2014, and the share of digital in total video watch time has quadrupled.

Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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