by Dr. Shanthi Thomas
A look at the streaming trends in 2022 reveals a fiercely raging war among the online entertainment giants of the world such as Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. The coveted prize? The Indian streaming market.
This should not be surprising, as internet users in India are over 900 million. These millions watch the offerings streamed to them for close to six hours per day on average, making India one of the most coveted markets for streaming services. However, the demand in India is more for Desi content than worldwide hits. Streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix recognized this demand and released hugely popular localized content in 2022.
In April 2022, Amazon Prime revealed a plan to double its investment in India in the next five years. Indians are set to enjoy 40 new titles in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil from Amazon Prime. 26 of these are originals and the remaining are returning original series. The third season of Mirzapur, which was the most in-demand streaming original series in 2021, is expected for release this month. There were equally notable Prime Video releases in 2022 such as the second season of Panchayat, the romantic-drama Gehraiyaan, a thriller titled Jalsa, and the hugely popular coming-of-age film Sharmaji Namkeen.
On the international front, Amazon claimed a significant chunk of Indian audiences with season three of The Boys which had 9.6 million viewers. Close to 7.3 million people from India also watched the first episode of the highly acclaimed Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power. To cement its base in the Indian streaming market, Amazon launched the Prime Video Store in the region. This has been hailed as a smart move as the video-on-demand service gives Indian audiences early access to a variety of local and international movies by letting them rent those on a per-movie basis.
However, the arch rival of Amazon Prime, Netflix has been continuing to claim large chunks of the Indian viewing market with its huge array of original content. The streaming giant reigned over the market with titles like Stranger Things, Dahmer, Ozark, Cobra Kai, Bridgerton, and Manifest. Statistics released by Parrot Analytics reveal that by the first quarter of 2022, Netflix had 46.1% share of the Indian streaming market. A lot of it has to do with binge-worthy Indian originals such as Delhi Crime and Aranyak, the latter being the most-watched show on Netflix in India.
The Indian Predator trilogy docuseries and the movies Dasvi, Thar and Alia Bhatt’s Darlings were other favourite shows of Indian audiences from Netflix. And they have more to offer. Upcoming films like Monica, O My Darling, and The Ghost —both to be released towards the end of 2022— just go to show that when it comes to streaming originals, Netflix has undeniable superiority over other streaming platforms. It has plans to expand its viewer base in 2023 and beyond by tapping into Tollywood. Netflix is supposed to have begun production of at least six original TV shows in Telugu and Tamil.
Another player in the arena is Disney+ Hotstar, which is India’s largest streaming platform. It exclusively features top Bollywood films and Indian original content such as Rudra: The Edge of Darkness and the series The Great Indian Murder. In terms of original moves, the platform offered the hugely popular Kaun Pravin Tambe? and Brahmāstra Part One: Shiva. The series Moon Knight and The Great Indian Murder also pulled in a large viewership for Disney+ Hotstar. There were other very popular shows too, such as the medical drama Human, and psychological thrillers, Masoom and Escaype Live. At this year’s D23 global Disney fan event in Anaheim, Disney+ Hotstar announced its plans for brand new programmes for Indian fans such as Mahabharat and season eight of the super popular talk show, Koffee with Karan.
There are smaller, homegrown players in the fray too. The 16th season of Colors TV’s Bigg Boss, (the Indian version of Big Brother), Zee5’s Forensic and Love Hostel, SonyLIV’s Shark Tank India, and MX Player’s Lock Upp and Aashram are hugely popular. But top prize for popularity goes to StarPlus’s Anupamaa, which follows the tale of an Indian homemaker who struggles to find a balance between her ambitions and the needs of her family. It has garnered 248 million views over its 700 episodes.
The battle of the giants will not be over any time soon. If anything, it will rage more fiercely than ever in the future, as the demand for original content in India is expected to increase to over 4,000 hours by 2024. All the contenders vying with each other to win the Indian streaming market are equally strong and set on target. Suffice to say that, as the competition gets hotter and tougher with new programmes being offered, the Indian streaming market is going to get more interesting and exciting than ever in the future.
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