Regional is the new mass media, say experts

MUMBAI: The regional TV market in India is larger than the Hindi TV market with a higher viewership share and a growing advertiser base which stands at 3,500, Network18 president strategy, product & alliances Avinash Kaul has said while speaking during a panel discussion at the FICCI Frames 2018.

Kaul said that 270 out of 500 channels measured by BARC India are regional. These channels are producing a large amount of content which gets fed on to multiple platforms including TV and digital.

He also noted that the entry of Reliance Jio has led to a spike in video consumption on mobile due to the crash in data prices. The addition of mobile screen has meant that the media owners can reach out to a wider audience on multiple screens apart from TV.

Kaul noted that the regional TV audiences have different content preferences as opposed to their Hindi and English counterparts. He also said that there is a lot of activity in the regional markets than the saturated national market.

“If we look at the regional viewership it is higher than the Hindi viewership. Regional viewership in India is around 47% while Hindi is 45%, and the balance is English. Regional channels surpassed Hindi one year back,” he said during a panel discussion on ‘Regional is the new Mass Media’.

“The number of advertisers on regional channels have grown 20% in the last two years. Today there are around 3500 advertisers are exclusively on regional channels,” he added.

With more and more advertising money getting spent on regional channels, the channels become profitable so do the companies which make content and this virtuous cycle keeps getting bigger.

Culture Machine CEO Sameer Pitalwalla said that there were no channels on YouTube that were dedicated to Tamil when the company launched Put Chutney. However, after the content created by Put Chutney started going viral others took notice and today there are a number of content creators for the Tamil audience. He also noted that Put Chutney’s content has travelled to TV on Star Vijay channel.

Veteran sports journalist Ayaz Memon gave the example of Star Sports which has regional sports broadcasting through dedicated regional sports channels. He also noted that regional sports commentary is very critical to building a connection with those audiences.

Your Story managing editor Darlington Hector said that the regional markets in India are comparable to many European countries. He also said that Your Story will expand into many more regional languages.

He also said that providing content in special segments like tech and start-up will play a huge role spreading literacy about these subjects which would otherwise be impossible.

The News Minute managing editor Dhanya Rajendran said there is a need to define what constitutes regional. For her website, news about South India is more important than say what is happening in North India or for that matter Delhi or Mumbai.

She also said that the national media never accorded importance to covering regional states. The regional newspapers have done a good job of covering their respective markets.