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Surge in smartphone users, faster web speeds trigger rush for Indian content

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Surge in smartphone users, faster web speeds trigger rush for Indian content

India's rising number of smartphone users and improved internet infrastructure have sparked a rush for local video content, according to key industry players at the Broadcast India Show 2017 in Mumbai.

Panelists and attendees discussed how technology helps to generate high-quality content for both linear and digital formats, partly as a result of a huge demand for such content.

One key reason for the rise in demand and value of Indian content is that India is expected to have 500 million smartphone users in the next two years, up from nearly 150 million currently, most of them being millennials.

In India, millennials are driving mobile video consumption, QYOU Media CEO and co-founder Curt Marvis told the audience.

"People tell me that millennials do not watch television anymore. No, they do watch television, it's just on a different screen," Marvis said while waving his smartphone.

"Now people have access to content all the time and they do not need to get home to watch television," he added.

SNL ImageRamesh Meer at BIS 2017
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence

Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video recently announced a major push into local content. Local streaming services like Hotstar are also acquiring both Hindi and regional language content, as wellas strengthening its local and global sports offerings.

Although Facebook Inc.'s recent $600 million offer for the rights to stream India's cricket league failed, it did illustrate the OTT giant is prepared to invest serious money in the Indian content market.

Moreover, India's favorite over-the-top platform, YouTube, opened a pop-up space in Hyderabad to help local language content creators.

Marvis also sees India as a massive market for content consumption and is therefore about to launch a 24/7 India-centric TV Everywhere service in collaboration with local creators like Culture Machine and Pocket Aces in November.

Meanwhile, earlier this year Mumbai hosted the country's first content distribution marketplace, the Global Content Bazaar, a content buying and selling event.

Ramesh Meer, managing director of Global Content Bazaar, said that Indian creators are no longer dependent on big Bollywood film production houses, theatrical releases, and TV networks.

"At merely $1,000, you can create your own channel and host content. You don't even need YouTube," Meer declared, pointing at some of the OTT technology offerings showcased at BIS.

Rajesh Thadani, owner of Mumbai-based film distribution company Multimedia Combines, was not as enthused. He lamented the lack of sufficient knowledge among budding content creators.

"Everyone knows that this is a great time for content creators. They have heard about it. But they don't know what to do," Thadani said in an interview.

Moreover, Indian consumers may need to change their appetite for free content, he added, saying that "in the future, most content will be behind some sort of paywall. That is a long but only way forward."