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OTT’s Rising Tide Seeds The Second Wave For India’s Vernacular Internet

OTT’s Rising Tide Seeds The Second Wave For India’s Vernacular Internet

Around 210 Mn active internet users in India with $300 Bn in annual spending power have embraced regional language services and products

On Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs, YouTube and Instagram, vernacular content accounted for up to 49% of all discussions and engagement

Media consumers are spending almost 45% of their time watching regional language videos on digital platforms

Up until 2018, for 20-year-old Preeti Singh (name changed) from a small locality in Noida, every day would invariably begin with walking to an apartment, three kms away from her house, in the wee hours of the morning to clean vessels, sweep and mop in one house after another. Once done with all her chores, she and her mother had to return home before the curfew set by her locality, which was 4 pm. After going home, she would again clean vessels at her house, sew etc. She had never seen a world beyond this. Her only solace were those occasional dramas and Salman Khan movies she got to watch on TV at her neighbour’s house. 

Cut to January 2019, she gets her first smartphone and her world changes overnight. Today, Singh has a bunch of close friends, is active on TikTok, watches free videos on Disney+ Hotstar, YouTube and even does online shopping. The smartphone is today her window to the outside world. She prepared macaroni at home and even knows how to bake. She also learnt a lot about how shopping malls function through several videos and even went to one in Noida with her friends on a weekday bunking work. 

Well, she is a house help even today, but dreams of opening a boutique or delivering beauty parlour services to the same apartment she works at soon after the lockdown is over, thanks to all the DIYs on various digital platforms, or rather all the videos posted in the only language she is confident about, Hindi. 

If low-cost smartphones and cheap internet data are the primary factors behind Preeti Singh and millions of Indians today being able to participate in the digital revolution, the credit equally goes to the regional language internet ecosystem in India.