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Opinion

Local language content needs better clarity to flourish in India

Darlington Hector
9th Mar 2018
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If digital media consumption has to grow at a greater pace in this country, there is little doubt that languages apart from English need to play a large role. YourStory has been the pioneer in this regard, having started Hindi, Tamil and Bengali content years ago.

As English television news channels lose credibility with their propaganda-driven anchors stealing the show, there is a great opportunity for digital outfits to make an even bigger mark. The Indian digital story is still in its nascent stages, and over the next 10 years when the new generation which has shunned traditional newspapers and television channels come into their own, we will see newer revenue models and fresher content in local languages.

Imagine a scenario when we are able to deliver in various Indian languages, quality digital content on science, technology, entrepreneurship, funding options etc. That’s the time when there will be a real knowledge and information boom in this country. At the FICCI Frames event in Mumbai on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to raise these points.

Darlington Jose Hector, Managing Editor, YourStory at the FICCI Frames event in Mumbai, discussing the relevance of regional languages in digital media, as senior journalist Ayaz Memon looks on

A report put together by Google and KPMG India states that Indian language users now have an upper hand over English language users in India. Kannada, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali and Malayalam have high traction in the digital media space. The KPMG-Google study says almost 70 percent of Indians feel regional digital stories are more dependable than English ones. The study also goes on to state that by 2021, over 200 million Hindi users will come online. And that will be nearly 40 percent of the internet base.

The Indian media and entertainment industry grew by 13 percent to reach Rs 1.5 trillion in revenues last year, as per a FICCI-Frames 2018 report. Digital and the gaming sector led the surge. The growth of the online media space showed that advertising revenues in the space were rising, and hence reflective of the nature of the news consumption.

Subscription revenues have emerged as a new revenue source. The newly released FICCI-EY report shows that digital media grew nearly 30 percent, riding on 28.8 percent rise in advertising in 2017. Subscription is expected to rise to 9 percent by 2020, the report further said.

The challenge will be to now provide content tailor-made for the language user. Now, most of the content is a mere translation from English, and some of the flavour gets lost in the process. These are just the formative years, but there is no doubt that the digital space will evolve into a powerful entity capable of driving the economy forward. The next decade will be extremely crucial in the evolution of the digital space, even as competition grows and the need for differentiation comes into sharp focus.

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