Home / News / India /  Streaming platforms offer fitness, spiritual content

New Delhi: The covid-19 pandemic has given video streaming platforms a chance to expand their offerings beyond entertainment to genres like health, fitness and spirituality to cater to increased demand and new audience segments.

Last month, Disney+ Hotstar entered into a strategic alliance with fitness, yoga and nutrition content producer Brilliant Wellness to introduce content curated from its fitness experts, yoga and spiritual gurus, along with celebrity nutritionists spread across 100 programs. Start-ups Sarva and Cult.Fit, also brought their workout models on to the video streaming service.

VOOT, the VoD platform owned by Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd, has associated with Cult.fit and Isha Foundation, the non-profit spiritual organisation founded by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev besides online higher education company upGrad. ZEE5 has collaborated with Dabur Honey to launch a chat show - Dabur Honey Hello Fitness besides a range of fitness programmes in partnership with its live events vertical ZEE LIVE.

The focus on these niche genres makes sense given that India has veered towards a more holistic way of content consumption that goes beyond general entertainment over these past three months of lockdown. According to data from media measurement and analytics company Comscore, average time spent by visitors on apps in the religion or spirituality category rose by 27% in April as compared to January.

A Disney spokesperson said health and fitness have become extremely important in our stressful lives, and never more so than today. The aim of their content, available in English, Hindi and Telugu, is to help people lead ‘happier lives.’

“There was always a plan to add these newer sections but covid just accentuated and helped fastrack that process because there was so much opportunity to grow given that OTT (over-the-top video steaming) had emerged as the primary mode of consumption," Aparna Acharekar, programming head at ZEE5 said.

Fitness and spirituality are evergreen topics, Acharekar added, connected to physical, mental and emotional health but their need had never been felt as much before as now given that people have had no access to gyms, parks or other avenues to socialise, work out or seek motivation from.

Audience segmentation across genres such as reality shows, crime, drama, mythology and so on has become more pronounced during the lockdown, said Akash Banerji, business head at VOOT but the company’s research showed that people were also searching for content beyond fiction.

“As an OTT platform, we had to give enough content selection (in these genres to) for people to keep coming back to us and make sure that the content was of a certain significance and quality which is why the decisive entry into these additional genres," Banerji added.

Media industry experts say while these new genres cannot be compared in viewership to general mainstream entertainment and are still in early days of uptake, consumption of such content continues to see a steady rise with platforms compelled to invest in them even post the lockdown. In this era of highly individualised viewing, Acharekar said spiritual content is watched on connected devices which proves that the family is consuming it together.

“Of course even within the genres, there are trends. Fitness videos, for instance, work best in the morning and evening while meditation works throughout the day," Banerji said adding that the company continues to seek audience feedback and plans to double down on whatever is catching on.


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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