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Here's Why Hotstar, Netflix & Amazon Prime are Dubbing Content in Regional Languages According to the KPMG report titled 'India's Digital Future: Mass of Niches', dubbing existing content is considered as an effective tool for the OTT players to quickly expand the catalogue of original and movie content available

By Shreya Ganguly

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To reach a larger audience for its web series offerings, Hotstar Specials such as Criminal Justice and City of Dreams can now be watched in six regional languages—Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bangla, Malayalam and Marathi. The trend of offering existing Hindi content in other languages is not new for over-the-top (OTT) operators.

Earlier, Prime Video dubbed popular Hindi originals such as Inside Edge and Breathe to Tamil and Telugu. The platform offered by Amazon also tried to increase depth in their regional library by dubbing English movies such as Alpa and Rampage, among others, to Tamil and Telugu. "OTT players like Netflix and Amazon Prime have started hiring writers to add contextual flavour to dialogues in English in addition to launching regional web series," according to a KPMG report titled "India's Digital Future: Mass of niches'.

According to a report by RedSeer, the Indian OTT market is projected to grow 80 per cent from 170 million in 2019 to 300 million by 2022. With increasing Internet penetration, demand for regional content online has grown more than ever.

Both domestic and international players are looking to disrupt the OTT market through India-focused originals and regional content. While the players are focusing on creating more localised content, they are also trying to widen their offerings by dubbing the existing content in other regional languages.

"Currently, our original content from India is largely in Hindi, but we are also licensing films in various regional languages. We have a couple of Marathi original films including Firebrand and 15 August. Our members have access to local content in several languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Sikkimese, Urdu and Punjabi. Our Indian members have a curated library of some of the best regional and indie films to choose from on Netflix," said Netflix spokesperson.

Dubbing Content To Reach The Masses

According to the KPMG report, dubbing existing content is considered as an effective tool for the OTT players to quickly expand the catalogue of original and movie content available. Content can be dubbed into several languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, and Marathi and reach to the audience of different region.

A 2018 report by Centre of Media and Entertainment studies, too, showed 45 per cent of the users consume regional language content. "By 2017, the regional viewership on YouTube India has tripled, with Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam content being watched by millions of viewers," the report noted.

What Do Users Want?

A survey report published by YouGov, a market research company, earlier this year said 72 per cent of people in India prefer watching content in languages other than the ones they know. The report also showed that only 24% of users like dubbed content. Most of viewers prefer subtitles for foreign language shows.

The report also said 82 per cent of users in south India prefer subtitled content while north and east India are twice more likely than south to prefer dubbed versions.

Players Meeting Demand For Original Content

OTT players are striving to strengthen their footprint in the Indian market via original content. According to media reports, citing data from business intelligence company Veratech Intelligence, Netflix India clocked in a revenue of INR 466.7 crore for FY19 with a net profit of INR 5.1 crore riding on the growing original content in India.

In May, reports said Netflix had plans to launch 22 original movies and 11 series in India by 2020 as a part of the company's aim to create appealing content from the country. The US-based company made its debut in producing local original content in India with crime thriller Sacred Games, based on a novel by Vikram Chandra.

Meanwhile, Hotstar will make original movies under its Hotstar Special label and has also earmarked INR 120 crore for producing original content. Meanwhile, YouTube is also looking to strengthen its presence in the Indian market with "YouTube Originals'.

Shreya Ganguly

Former Features Writer


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