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HomeAsiaInside South Asia's Language-Specific Streaming Scene

Inside South Asia’s Language-Specific Streaming Scene

It seems to be the motto of various streamers working across South Asia, going language-specific, going cheap, going hyperlocal, to be successful.

With countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan, South Asia is a vast region with 1.9 billion people speaking different languages. It is a well-known fact that people in this area prefer to consume content in their own words. The South Asian streamer story is, of course, about existing market-leading global streamers such as Disney Plus Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix, with HBO Max and Apple TV Plus coming soon.

Most of the local programming of larger streamers and their competitors (SonyLIV, Lionsgate Play, ALTBalaji, ZEE5, Voot, ErosNow, etc.) is Hindi, the Indian language consumed in the region thanks to Bollywood’s soft power. It’s a word. It has only been in the last few years that larger players have begun to expand into the larger South Indian market. Meanwhile, established local language players who have the advantage of starters but not necessarily bottomless pockets are planning to maintain and expand their loyal audience base.

One of the market pioneers is India ShemarrowStarted as a book lending library in 1962, developed into a video library in 1976, became a home video rights company in 1987, broadcast syndication in 1993, movie production in 2004, digital distribution in 2009, 2019 In 2011, he launched the streamer ShemarooMe.

During this journey, Shemallow experienced one of India’s largest IPR integration exercises and purchased permanent rights to 1,600 films across languages. The company has established a presence on YouTube, with 35 million subscribers to the Shemaroo channel and 58.1 million subscribers to the music-based Shemaroo Filmi Gaane.


The company has also built a vast library of Gujarati content, including filmed plays that are very popular among Gujarati-speaking audiences concentrated in India, the United States, the United Kingdom and East Africa. rice field. Like many other streamers, ShemarooMe consumption surged during the pandemic blockade. “By the end of the first blockade [in 2020] Looking at the data, we found that Gujarat viewers were hungry for content, “said Hairenda, CEO of Shemarrow. variety.. In a heterogeneous market like India, Gada states that all other media, including television and printed matter, are segmented by language.

In April 2021, ShemarooMe resumed with a new consumer proposal that subscribers get one new content (series, play, or movie) each week. “And that meant that viewers definitely had a stream of content every week,” says Gada.

ShemarooMe currently has 500 Gujarati movies and 9 original series on service, and is further outsourced. The number of subscribers has not been disclosed, but the price is reasonable. In India it is 999 Indian Rupees ($ 13.38) or 349 Indian Rupees ($ 4.67) quarterly, in the UK it is £ 49.99 or 6.99 per year and in the United States it is $ 100 or $ 10 per month.

ShemarooMe’s success meant that there was competition even within the segment-specific Gujarat market. Launched in May 2021, Oho Gujarati attracted 50,000 subscribers with an annual plan paying 499 Indian Rupees ($ 6.68) in India, £ 33 in the UK and $ 20 in the US. Oho Gujarati has 24 hours of original content, including 14 originals. We plan to release 2 originals every month, and 18 are currently in production. Oho CEO Surya deep Basia does not consider Shemallow as a competitor because they are “very big players” and belong to a “totally different league”. “We’re new kids in Brock and smaller players, but after all, we depend on our content-to make it talk,” Basia said. variety.. Oho is also discussing contracts of carriage with streaming platforms in the United States and the United Kingdom.


Beyond the eastern border of India in Bangladesh Bongo BDStarted operation in 2014, we bought thousands of hours of digital rights for local content at a low price and posted it on YouTube. The Bongo BD YouTube channel proved to be a hit, with 5.34 million subscribers today. Bongo’s management then traded with a Bangladeshi telecommunications company to build a non-existent streaming infrastructure and launched a streaming service in 2015. Over the years, Bongo BD has also built another B2B model, which was also successful.

“We basically built a platform to help other content producers and content creators deliver and monetize their content online,” said Ahad Mohammad Bhai, founder and CEO of Bongo BD. variety..

When the coronavirus broke out in 2020, the Bangladesh Ministry of Information contacted Bongo BD and other start-ups to help the country’s 167 million population stay home during the blockade. Bongo BD has launched a campaign saying that the service will remain free as long as Bangladesh is blocked. The campaign was successful and BongoBD now reaches 200 million people worldwide every month. After the lockdown is released, streamers will move to a mixed AVOD and SVOD model, and Bangladesh subscribers will be able to use premium content for a monthly BDT50 ($ 0.58) or BDT300 ($ 3.50 per year). Internationally, SVOD services cost $ 3 per month or $ 15 per year. BongoDB currently has 405,000 paid subscribers.

The content is hyperlocal in Bengali, with 15 original series currently being streamed based on 1,000 movies. Plans for 2022 are two original series a month, one drama every other week, one new acquired movie streaming every week, four specials about festivals such as Eid and national holidays, four original movies. .. Currently, 30 titles are in production.

Bangladesh shares borders, cultural heritage and languages ​​with West Bengal, India, which has a population of 101 million.The biggest streamer out there HoichoiWas launched in 2017 with the support of SVF Entertainment, the state’s largest studio.

In 2021, Hoichoi revealed Aggressive entry into the Bangladesh market We are affiliated with a local carrier. The service boasts about 600 movies and over 100 originals. In 2022, Hoichoi will release 32 new originals, 22 of which will focus on the Indian and international markets, 10 will focus on the Bangladesh market, at least 12 new world premiere films and 50 more. We plan to provide the movie as a whole. Movie library. Discussions are underway with carriers in West and Southeast Asia to implement this service.

“The main purpose is to tell a differentiated story,” said Soumya Mukherjee, Vice President of Revenue and Strategy at Hoichoi. variety.. “Our content strategy should help us grow 50-60% year-on-year in the Indian market and over 75% year-on-year in Bangladesh.”

Hoichoi currently generates 30% of its revenue internationally. The annual subscription cost is 599 Rs ($ 8) for 5 devices and 899 Rs ($ 12) for 8 devices in India. Equivalents in Bangladesh are $ 500 ($ 5.82) and $ 700 ($ 8.15), and in other countries they are $ 8.99 per month and $ 49.99 per year. Hoichoi declined to reveal the number of subscribers.

Competition is intensifying in the Bengali segment of South Asia. In addition to Bongo and Hoichoi, Indian players include ZEE5 Bangla and Addatimes, and Bangladesh includes Bioscope, BanglaFlix, Chorki and Toffee.


for Planet MaratiLaunched in August 2021, the Streamer accommodates approximately 84 million Marathi speakers worldwide and is not competitive at this time. Producer and founder Akshay Bardapurkar began posting his content and third-party content on Twitter under the Planet Marathi brand in 2017. By 2018, Planet Marathi has spread to Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. It created brand equity, but not enough monetization, and Bardapurkar decided to launch Planet Marathi as a streaming service.

With the sponsorship of Singapore-based Vistas Media Capital, the Planet Marathi streaming service was launched in August 2021 by Bollywood star Madhuri Dixit Nene.

Planet Marathi’s annual subscription plan costs $ 365 Rupees ($ 4.88) in India and $ 9.99 overseas. This service has 100,000 paid subscribers. Because of its growth strategy, Planet Marathi is looking inward at the untapped local markets. According to Balda Pulkar, INR365 costs 1 rupee a day and is easily available in the local market. And it needs to be backed up by the content. “Story telling is everything. Hyperlocal things, what happens in the backyard, what people associate with you, your lifestyle, your life, you need to create such content,” Bardapurkar said. say. Planet Marathi currently has 120 licensed films, 8 originals, and a few more.

Telugu and Malayalam

Streamer Aha Telugu, which serves the Telugu market, was launched in March 2020. Currently, the annual subscription price is 349 Indian Rupees ($ 4.67) in India, $ 49.99 in the US and £ 24.99 in the UK. There are 300 movies and 25 original series, and an additional 15 in the pipeline.

Manorama Max, a major player competing in the field of Malayalam, is backed by a huge Malayalam Manorama media group, which is 999 Indian Rupees ($ 13.38) per year in India and in West Asia, where there are many Malayalam immigrant workers. It is $ 24.99 and $ 29.99 in other regions. Of the world. The service has 400 movies and 15 originals and will be scaled up. “We want to get involved with all Malayali around the world,” says Sathyajith Divakaran Nair, GM of Manorama Max.

Malayalam also has Saina Play, Heeroz is in Punjabi, the language spoken in India and Pakistan, Nepal has Prabhu TV and Fopi in Nepali, and Sri Lanka has Kiki in Sinhala. Dari in Afghanistan offers Afghan, Turkish, Western, Indian and Korean content in Dari, Persian and Pashto, while Urdu Flix in Pakistan specializes in Urdu content.

So far, other than Hindi, the expansion of global streamers Disney Plus Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix has focused primarily on Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada South Indian languages. .. But that can change a lot.

For now, language experts aren’t too worried. Srinivas Balabommala, Vice President and Acquisition of Aha Telugu, said: variety“We don’t want to brag about ourselves, but almost everyone is trying to imitate what we’re doing,” his service is backed by veteran and deeply rooted industry players. I added that it has been done. This is an idea that resonates with all players with deep industry ties, such as Shemarrow, Manoramamax and Hoichoi, and some say that multiple players have ample market.

“There’s plenty of room for many players. Great content, good user experience, a very deep and culturally well-established, connected service that provides enough service to consumers to be successful overall. We need to be in a good position, “said Gada of Shemaroo.

“Our research is much better and our contacts are much better,” said Bardapurkar of Planet Marathi about the fight between local language specialists and platform giants. “The only areas they can beat us are production and artist payments, and they probably try to attack us very hard.”

Bardapurkar is also convinced that when a big player enters his patch, his investors will get more money.



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