NEW DELHI: US streaming giants Amazon and Netflix are tapping into Indian viewers’ preferences for local content and, more specifically, regional language content as internet penetration spreads beyond the cities and into rural areas.

Jessica Lee, vice president, Communications–Asia, Netflix, reported the platform had seen “strong growth” since its launch in India two years ago, when its initial focus was on wealthier consumers interested in western and global entertainment.

It also had ambitions to build up a catalogue of Indian content for a broader audience which is where it now placing its bets. “Key to our content strategy is becoming a leading producer and distributor of high-quality Indian content,” Lee told the Business Standard.

“Currently, members can watch local content in several languages on Netflix, including Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Punjabi, and we will continue to expand this regional offering.”

The picture is similar at Amazon, which entered India in 2013 and launched Prime Video three years later. According to James Farrell, Asia-Pacific Content Head, Amazon Prime Video, “The number of hours the average customer is consuming is 2.5 times higher than what it was when we launched”.

He told Exchange4Media that original Indian content like ‘Breathe’ and ‘Inside Edge’ had done better than anything else, while big Bollywood and regional movies also do “phenomenally well”.

Amazon hasn’t yet got into making original movies since there is an ample supply from Bollywood. “Though on originals when we looked at local TV for licensing there wasn’t a lot,” said Farrell – hence the decision to invest in making 20 original series.

“We want to figure out how do we do more in the South,” he added. “We haven’t announced any originals yet from the South but we are looking to do as much as can be done.”

Viacom18 has also taken the plunge into creating local content, having noted that around a quarter of the consumption on VOOT, its OTT platform launched in mid-2016, happens in the regional space.

“So, we’re confident there is appetite for VOOT Originals in the regional markets,” noted Gaurav Gandhi, COO, Viacom18 Digital Ventures.

Sourced from Business Standard, Exchange4Media, Business Today; additional content by WARC staff