In today’s world it is truly difficult to analyze and understand the preference of consumers. During 90s we all saw rise and never-ending episodes of many serials on television channels showcasing Saas-Bahu (mother-in-law and daughter-in-law) and conspiracy sagas. Most remarkable signifiers of these series were overtly loud dressing, over make-up and over the top sacrificing female protagonists along with some cold, suspicious and sometimes spine-less male characters.
“Main apne pati ki khushi ke liye kuch bhi kar sakti hun”
(I can do anything for the happiness of my husband)
“Main apna pariwaar nahi tootne dungi”
(I will never allow anyone to break my family)
These are stereotypical dialogues of Hindi serials which I am sure most of us have heard, seen and slept with (either mid-afternoon or late nights on T.V.). Some scenes were even difficult to believe, still the concept worked for the makers.
“Mihir ka punarjanam hua hain”
(Mihir has been reborn)
“Simar makhi bannkar pariwaar ki raksha karegi”
(Simar will protect her family by turning into a fly)
Can you even imagine the story line? An Indian daily soap started getting inspired from western series and hence started using various unrealistic characters in the drama.
The audiences for such shows were those who just wanted to pass their free time and they really did not have a choice to pick something different at that time. TV’s not so Intriguing Content Lead to the Rise of On –Demand Content for the Youth of India.
Television Channels’ efforts to hold the audience to the TV box
There was a time when drama content was popular that was targeted towards younger crowd belonging to the age group of 18 to 30 years of age. This dramatized content was part of some series like Remix, Dil Mil Gaye, Mile Jab Hum Tum, Dil Dosti Dance, etc. It was also experienced that though these were started with appealing and interesting content, slowly the storyline moved towards weird twists, plots and conspiracy just to stretch the story.
Then started the era and trend of reality shows like MTV Roadies, Splits Villa, Big Boss etc. These series were successful but could not hold the audience on the television for long and the makers of these series wanted to explore something new for entertainment.
Then came various comedy shows that were able to attract audience belonging to every age group. These shows brought with them the culture of TV viewing with family once again. Comedy Nights with Kapil was a great hit with the audience but after a certain period even it could not repeat its previous success record. Television channels kept on attempting to bring the audience back but somehow with the advent of online viewing, things started getting changed.
Emergence of Internet
In the hunt of better options, the audience moved to the internet. Increasing penetration of internet at lower rates in India along with rise in mobile and e-commerce has given rise to heavy demand of other formats of entertainment. The audience started selecting their own content and time to get entertained. The audience hence started consuming their content online in the most adaptable and engaged environment. People started watching these episodes during their otherwise boring and time taking travel. In metro cities where people spend even 4-5 hours in travelling, such series came as a pleasant experience.
These popular web series gave the power in the hands of viewers as they were not having a fixed time slot. Viewers too are happy that now they can watch these episodes as per their comfort and from the location they want to choose. All they need is just a screen and mobile phones are available to a large portion of Indian population.
Changing Preference of Youth gave Wings to Digital Streaming Industry
If we talk about Digital Streaming industry in India at that time, it was still at budding stage. The industry has experienced great growth and with the continuously evolving digital ecosystem, this category is expecting sharp growth over the next 5 years.
While discussing the trend, we also need to discuss the change in the attitude and taste of youngsters. With the advent of new era, young generation has an easy access to all sorts of content. With this ease in availability of content, there is an increase in the number of youngsters who want to consume western content, especially American series. These shows were available on certain TV channels like Star World and Comedy Central; still these shows have their viewers who watch the shows mostly even on personal devices.
Netflix and Amazon Prime are trending paid online channels that are gaining popularity among audience owing to their provision of latest movie content and global series. Audience is least bothered about the monthly or annual subscription charges when they are getting to watch the latest series trending and month old movies. Hotstar too is doing quite well specially during cricket leagues and trophies.
Youngsters these days are hooked to various paid channels that were discussed in the above paragraph. Video sharing websites have been a large source of platform to content creators globally. YouTube too is immensely popular among the youth. YouTube is not just a video sharing platform, rather it’s a great stage for content creators globally. Younger generation is full of energy and quite creative as well. Youngsters have used this amazing video sharing website to their huge advantage.
Sketches, Web Series, Vlogs, Vines and parodies are the types of content that have seen an upward trend in the recent years. The trend of web series was started by US in the early 2000’s itself but it caught the attention of Indian creators in the year 2015 and since then it’s continuously enthralling the audience. Y-Films, TVF (The Viral Fever), Scoop Whoop and Filter Copy are among leading web content producer.
Idea of Speedy Storytelling
Sacred Games and Mirzapur are original Indian creations that have captivated Indian viewers. Before these, TVF’s Permanent Roommates and Pitchers have been immensely successful that turned it to be the first Indian YouTube Channel to get 1 Million subscribers.
Something new is required everywhere. Even the food needs to be styled and reinvented to make it look attractive. Similarly the web content needs to be styled and reinvented so as to charm the ever changing audiences and their preference. On similar lines, Sacred Games was having an engaging story line revolving around a Criminal and his journey. This was a content that was not being acknowledged as something good by TV content creators. Sacred Games became so famous that the audience is eagerly waiting for the next season. Amazon prime and Netflix gained immense popularity in India due to the popular series like Mirzapur and Sacred Games. The creators of these shows researched a lot on the story line and its execution. They were able to gauge the taste of their audience and were able to make a series that made them glued to their screens.
The web series concept is a hit among the content hungry Indian audience that wants to see something new every time it has to enjoy some leisure time. The expectation of Indian audience has seen a steep growth and the youngsters expect an out-of-the-box storyline every time they want to indulge in binge watching.
Earlier, the viewers included more of females than males. There was a set pattern of male members when it came to their TV viewing habits. Males typically were associated with Sports channels, News and Movie channels while females were more into daily soap habit. However, with the advent of web series, even the males have started to find something alluring for them to spend a lazy Sunday. Web series have ensured a small but good number of male viewers due to their appealing and relatable content.
The storylines of these web series are relatable and don’t include any forced track. Language of these series is a mix of Hindi and English, i.e. the way most of the people communicate in their real life. Moreover, swear words are not censored along with including various topics like alcohol, smoking and sex are not showed in T.V. The characters of these series have grey shades too unlike the popular norms.
Apart from content, the length and time period of these series are also appealing. Indian TV soaps are suitable for the audience whose attention is difficult to hold for long and thus viewing process is less disrupting with fewer ads. Every season of these series has fewer episodes and hence the story is short, engaging and crisp.
Web Series and Branding
Web series are undoubtedly a great source of entertainment for viewers. Owing to the popularity of these series, certain brands are finding it quite catchy and convenient to promote their brand. CommonFloor.com was the first brand to promote themselves through the story of Permanent Roommates. If you have seen this series, you can clearly gauge the creativity used in the branding of this website.
SIT (Shitty Ideas Trending) is another popular series that often shows the characters talking about some products or services during their episodes. A lot of brands are named in the series and the best part is that it doesn’t even look like advertising.
Traditional advertising is very distracting and into the face whereas the creativity used for branding through the episodes of web series does not look forceful and is even appreciated by the audience due to the way it’s woven in the lives of the characters. This results in higher recall value because of likeability of the characters and the series.
In traditional advertisements, the brand hardly finds time to focus on the benefits in great detail, whereas web series offer better opportunity of doing it in a much better way by telling these benefits in detail by using the main characters of the episode.
The web-series is definitely a win-win situation for the brand as well as the production house. The brands get marketed well without being forced and the product house gets sponsorship. Even the entry level brands could use the concept of branding through web-series apart from the existing ones. These days even forbidden categories like alcoholic beverages have started using this mode of branding.
Indian preference is changing every day. Viewers have access to great quality content and whenever they are served with something that is not up-to-the-mark, they out-rightly reject it. In such a scenario, the makers have to be extremely careful; they need to conduct thorough research and then make their next move. The best idea would be to find out reliable professionals who can help you to take calculated moves that are backed by thorough research.