Opinion: Television for the millennial? Creating a space in the multi-screen world

Kailashnath Adhikari- Television content VS OTT content

Kailashnath Adhikari, Managing Director, Governance Now – A Sri Adhikari Brothers Enterprise, sheds light on how the relevance of content on Television will continue to remain unfazed with the rise of web content & more.

In India, television is one of the biggest sources of entertainment. Even in current times, it enjoys a dominant position in the Indian media and entertainment landscape. The television industry is valued at INR 78,000 Crore (approx.) with the largest chunk of advertising on it to the tune of INR 32000 Crore (approx.). Despite the spurt in digital mediums in the past half-decade, television continues to reach 836 million individuals. Close to 200 million households have access to television.

Very often, the growing popularity of OTT platforms leaves a question mark on whether TV will be able to match up to the competition. The answer to this lies in understanding the basic demography of Indian audiences. Being a close-knit community that values family time and bonding, Indians like to sit at their dinner table with the TV switched on and the entire family watching it together. Although with the penetration of Smart TVs, owing to their affordable prices, the integration of Cable TV and OTT Platforms on a single screen has become a lot easier. However, when a family sits together it’s the television that dominates due to the value it holds and the content which it broadcasts.

The Issue

Due to the rise in OTT platforms, traditional TV viewing has been diminishing, because of which the television industry has had to embrace the digital medium. It has nearly migrated online, as a result of which music has changed (album formats are also streaming now), entertainment has changed (YouTube stars are earning huge) and naturally television itself has changed.

The attention span of the millennials has drastically reduced now as they tend to become restless and keep switching between screen. With the flexibility that the OTT platforms afford them, there is a possibility that OTT, including all forms of digital entertainment, will one day match and/or overtake TV viewership. However, to witness that happen in demography like ours, we need to wait for 4-5 years more. TV is still expected to continue dominating the M & E landscape for reasons such as low subscription cost, nature of Indian audience, and low penetration. For OTT to capture the eyeballs of India’s heartland, it needs to bring its pricing closer to or even lower than that of television so that the audience makes a shift towards it.

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The Way Ahead

The content on TV has to change for it to attract the youth more.

  • Today’s youngsters are on TV for mainly watching sports and news. Even today people love to watch big sporting events on the television in a group or on a big screen with friends over drinks at varied places.
  • Secondly, for updates on any recent development of national or international public importance, people still switch on their television sets and watch. This is a basic human instinct and shall remain for long. For instance, during the pandemic-induced lockdown people were forced to stay indoors. As a result, there was a substantial increase in TV viewership along with that of OTT platforms. From children to the elderly, everybody consumed entertainment in their own fashion, be it news or entertainment.

The re-runs of Ramayana and Mahabharata created history and the most pleasantly surprising part was that these epics were largely viewed by millennials on television. This trend even paved the way for memes amongst the youth

This shows that the relevance of TV for Millennials exists even today. What’s needed for them to be pulled in, even more, is the right content. Today’s youth is not really interested in the typical Saas-Bahu sagas or those regressive storyline soaps. But that does not mean that they are averse to this medium of entertainment. They have seen television sets be around since the time they were born and so they have a sense of affinity towards it which needs to be nurtured further. The onset of digital content may have reduced the time spent by the youth on watching television content but that doesn’t really lessen the appeal and stronghold that TV has had over them till now. TV channels need to come up with fresh content that caters to the entertainment demands of the Millennials.

A good number of people in their mid-30s still like to watch the show “Radha Krishna” on Star Bharat at 9 pm in the night. The same set also loves to watch Mirzapur, Four More Shots Please, etc. in their happy confined spaces. It can be while commuting from work to home or before sleeping.

Summing it up

Millennials enjoy watching shows being offered on the web as they bring them closer to reality. Web appeals more to the educated youth who want the portrayal of realistic stories with the flexibility of being able to watch them in their own time. But TV too is their choice for certain types of content and for bonding with their families when watching together.

This article piece is authored by Kailashnath Adhikari, Managing Director, Governance Now – A Sri Adhikari Brothers Enterprise.

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