Lockdown pushes streaming sites to add foreign language niche cinema
NEW DELHI : Video streaming platforms are increasingly relying on niche, foreign language cinema, including Korean, Danish, French, Dutch and Spanish to attract audiences to India. The covid-19 pandemic, which has forced people to stay at home, has exposed viewers across the country to more global content as they feel comfortable with the captions as well as the stories that concern them .
Amazon Prime Video recently created the Oscar winner Minari (Korean) while BookMyShow Stream has titles like Another round (Danish), I remember you (Icelandic) and Heroic Losers (Spanish).
“India has always had a strong affinity for local and home-produced content, followed by the country’s love for Hollywood films, together making up the majority of the market share. This meant that foreign language films weren’t able to find a solid basis for theatrical release here until very recently, and that too in a limited way, ”explained Ashish Saksena, COO. , cinemas, BookMyShow. Certainly Oscar winner Parasite was the first Korean film to manage a theatrical release in India last year.
“With the advent and subsequent adoption of OTT platforms, accessibility to content from all over the world has not only become easier, but has also multiplied significantly. However, most of these platforms offer TV series, thus leaving a huge void for foreign language feature films, ”Saksena said, adding that BookMyShow Stream aims to fill this gap by bringing in titles from countries such as l ‘Spain, France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Slovakia and the Netherlands.
Locking down covid-19 has taught OTT platforms two things, said Mehul Gupta, co-founder and CEO of SoCheers, an independent digital agency. “Although regional language content is essential to acquire massive subscribers, international programming is very appealing, especially for a young age group of 18 to 34 who are looking to consume content in languages other than the United States. English. It is also a strategy to maintain volume and continue to generate new offerings, “Gupta said. Locally produced originals are currently facing a lag as the lockdown resulted in filming being suspended.
Svetlana Naudiyal, director of content at MUBI, India, a streaming platform dedicated to niche independent cinema that features a new offering every day and launched in the country in 2019, said the service now has members from the whole country and not just the metropolis. areas. MUBI versions such as Bacurau (Portuguese), Ema (Spanish) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (In French) were among the most viewed titles on the service in India over the past year.
A spokesperson for Netflix said people love great stories and it is an exciting time for stories in any language to succeed anywhere. “The language barrier is decreasing and more and more viewers are discovering great stories made by the world with high quality subtitles and dubbing – from Hindi dramas and Tamil thrillers to Korean romantic comedies and Spanish action dramas, ”the person added. After English and local language content, Spanish, Korean and Japanese titles are the most viewed on Netflix in India.
“One of the first myths that the popularization of world cinema shattered is that foreign language titles are niche and arty, thus only appealing to a certain section of the audience. With the growing awareness of non-English cinema, audiences have realized that like India and Hollywood, most countries have thriving theatrical activity with films made in all genres. “Saksena said. Almost 15% of Hollywood movies are remakes of popular foreign language movies,” he added.
As viewers got used to watching content with subtitles, the investment in the subtitling industry to translate a less familiar language closer to its original meaning meant that the subtitles were more rich and made the process of watching movies easier, ”he said.
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