Trends Which Will Drive the Indian Entertainment Sector
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While the entertainment industry in India has traditionally been identified with common place soap operas and painfully-long motion films, the path breaking expansion of live and digital entertainment has revolutionized the tastes and needs of the average Indian. As western music, cinema and pop culture, has carved a niche in the hearts of Indians, consumers are increasingly seeking aspirational products and services which break away from tried-and-tested thought systems, and stimulate their imaginations, stir their sentiments, and scintillate their pre-existing dilemmas. In response to the refined sensibilities of the millennials and the growing breed of discerning Indian consumers in general, performing arts like theatre, music, dance, and visual arts are increasingly engaging audiences. Additionally, live entertainment companies are rethinking their strategies of revenue generation for enhancing the experimental and experiential value of their shows and performances.
Lower internet prices and high mobile-phone penetration has contributed to the changing consumer affinity which has inevitably generated a never-seen-before market for online video streaming, regionalization of content, as well as for the newly-emerging domain of live entertainment. These recent developments have paved the way for a decentralization of access to a multitude of entertainment options for the dynamic and fast-paced India of today. As a result, content creators and investors can bank upon bigger and better revenues from potential investment targets inclusive of subscription video on demand, mobile video advertising, and online gaming. The icing on the cake is a hike in the prices of mobile tickets corresponding with increasing purchasing capacities. According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the Indian entertainment and media industry is expected to reach Rs 3.5 trillion (Rs 353,609 crore) by 2022, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6% between 2018 and 2022. This makes India one of the fastest growing markets globally. However, there are certain emerging trends which are revolutionizing entertainment in India and are likely to consolidate an already remarkable paradigm shift.
1) Growth in consumer affinity for live entertainment: As urban audiences are increasingly exposed to global entertainment, India has seen a growth of live entertainment shows and festivals which bring together international artists and attract audiences from different communities. Live performances dedicated to dance, music, comedy and poetry, are eagerly awaited by younger audience who seeks something fun, but emotionally-layered and engaging at the same time. Entertainment tourism is adequately catering to this need for a novel experience, as it is packaged with the promise of giving tourists a chance to experience a city’s local food, heritage and culture. With countless art festivals being held all through the year, it leads to a cross-culture pollination and generate employment for the locals.
2) Boosting of ticketing business through ecommerce: Various online payment solution portals used widely for recharges and other transactions, are utilizing their already existing customer base, for selling them movie-tickets. They are aiming at an expansion of customer acquisition and revenues from the movie entertainment business, by serving as ticketing platforms for big-budget Bollywood films. Additionally, they are offering regular cashbacks on cancellation of bookings. A methodical process of sharing industry insights with partners is also enabling a constant re-working of strategies for equipping production houses and theatre chains to target their potential audiences more effectively and improve occupancy on the opening weekend itself.
3) Penetration of Indian film sets by foreign filmmakers: A recent trend in the entertainment industry has been the migration of foreign filmmakers to the Indian subcontinent for making use of the varied locations in India to add substantial character to their films revolving around complex themes like self-discovery, interpersonal relationships, emotional channelizing as well as those on the other end of the spectrum like romantic and historical comedies. India has provided sets for some of the highest grossing and most critically-acclaimed films like Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi’s Beyond The Clouds which is set in the dark underbelly of Mumbai, Ryan Murphy’s biographical romantic comedy titled Eat Pray Love which is centred on the theme of self-discovery, as well as Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire which is a British drama based on a bestselling novel about a boy belonging to the slums of Mumbai. Moreover, as these locations often include archaeological sites, forests, and politically sensitive areas, several permissions and clearances are needed from the Archaeological Survey of India, the Home Ministry, Ministry of Environment and Forests, and several departments in the metropolis. However, in order to support this growing market for foreign feature films, documentaries, and commercial films, which serve as a major source of employment for the locals, various initiatives have been taken to smoothen the bureaucratic procedures for enabling an easier penetration of foreign filmmakers in India.
4) Millennials being targeted by online advertisers: The average millennial with a smartphone and a high speed internet connection uses social media for knowing the world around him/her as well as for engaging with it proactively. Catering to this widespread user base, new-age media companies are employing innovative social media strategies to build a market for live entertainment and reach their potential customers. These social media channels not only make it easier to invite sponsors and vendors for outdoor and destination events, but also play a vital role in reaching audiences across multiple geographies. Social media networks allow people to maintain a regular link with showbiz through live communication, update reviews on products/services, and even connect to others with similar tastes. Customers can now feel part of their city’s cultural diaspora by easily buying tickets for the latest sports, comedy or music event at the click of a button and use certain payment solutions to avail discounts. Marketing and distribution of content online has also eliminated the need for outrageous budgets allocated for film and event promotions, and play a vital role in attracting audiences to the theatres.
5) Digitization of regional content: As mobile connections in India are set to reach 850 million people by 2022 according to the Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2018-2022, this is an apt time for online video streaming platforms to shift away from the English-speaking urban crowd to a regional market with diverging tastes. Not only are these platforms dubbing Hindi language content to other languages such as Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam; they are also producing shows and movies in regional languages which are rich in cultural nuances. According to industry experts, OTT video streaming platforms generate about 30 percent of their annual budgets from content produced in local languages.
As art does not come in a specific form and shape and continues to evolve through the ages, audiences are opening themselves up to a whole new range of entertainment, which entails proactive participation from the viewer instead of a passive reception and acceptance of the messages intended by an artist.
This critical outlook from the audience which thinks, questions, and demands visually stimulating and thought-provoking entertainment, and does not shy away from expressing itself, has resulted in pushing entertainment portals out of their comfort zones. India’s Media and Entertainment Industry is undergoing game-changing shifts which are likely to completely change the way we access, think about, and respond to art.