NEW DELHI :
SonyLIV, the over-the-top (OTT) video streaming service of Sony Pictures Network (SPN) has announced its foray into south Indian language content by launching originals and acquired content in Tamil and Telugu. The platform will update a hefty chunk of its content catalogue across originals, web series, films and international shows in both languages to localize the viewing experience for its audience, the company said in a statement.
To start with, the south Indian language content will be free but soon, the service will move to a paid model. The first set of originals are titled
(Telugu) and Aivar (Tamil) respectively. Other upcoming shows include They call him Animal, ArthaSastram and My Marappu.
The localization initiative has several parts to it--first it entails acquiring content from competing south Indian language television channels like Polimer News, Seithigal TV, Jaya Plus, Raj News and Sakshi TV, among others. Second, dubbing popular Sony TV shows like Beyhadh, Kuch Rang Pyaar Ke Aise Bhi, Aladdin, CID, Main Mayke Chali Jaungi, Ladies Special, Patiala Babesand Mere Sai - Sharaddha Aur Saburi and The Viral Fever shows like Pitchers, Tripling and Permanent Roommates, in Tamil and Telugu. SonyLIV will also be remaking the network’s long-running crime anthology series Crime Patrol in the two south Indian languages with locally relevant characters and nuances.
The company is also looking at partnering with both local talent as well as production houses to scale up its south Indian language library. “We want to start with big categories like kids, sports and general entertainment and then look at originals," said Uday Sodhi, business head, digital, Sony Pictures Networks India. The video streaming service is looking at five original shows in the two south Indian languages this June and around 15-20 by the end of the year.
Sodhi said Tamil and Telugu together account for 80 million users in India’s digital video streaming market, an opportunity that the company does not want to lose out on. The need for regional language content becomes crucial given that India’s Internet penetration will increasingly be driven by rural growth. According to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment industry report 2019, rural Internet subscribers in the country rose from 132 million in December 2017 to 197 million in November 2018.
“Around 20% of all video consumption comes from these markets and our contribution to this has been negligible so far. If we want to be a player with a national footprint, we must invest in these strategic markets," Sodhi said.