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SERIES CREATORS TURN ATTENTION TO 'WEB'

Web series with innovative ideas give us what we have never seen before. In less than a decade, the online video industry has moved from a disconnected hodge-podge of animated shorts to a multi-billion industry due to creative and relatable content.

SERIES CREATORS TURN ATTENTION   TO WEB
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Right now, India's PM is encouraging us to go cashless and buy basic commodities by tapping on our cell phones. We do not know if this would be a hit in the long run, but certainly, entertainment is just a click away. The mediums which provide us with entertainment have steadily changed in the last few years. The public taste seems to be changing as well. This trend is recognised widely as content creators take to mediums such as YouTube and Snapchat to connect with their audience. The resulting growth in YouTube stars is a testament of how much the public loves such kind of entertainment.

So what is it about the concept of a web series that appeals to today's youth? Let us face it – our attention spans have shortened drastically. Surely, we still watch long Test cricket matches, but we would rather watch an episode that lasts about 10–15 minutes and get through with an entire season in a day. We want everything to be quick, and a web series serves this purpose spectacularly. Some of the best content on YouTube comes from scripted web series. The more free-form approach to web content allows creators to experiment, take risks and develop their skills. Web series are quickly becoming an incubator for talent and are venturing into more traditional media. Series creators are now starting to take their first steps outside of YouTube and into the mainstream media. These shows are short, narrate an effective story or deliver the right dose of humour.

Web series have a bright future ahead as it finds loyal subscribers among today's youth. Rahul Desai, a 28-year-old HR professional loves flaunting his subscriptions—from international players like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to homegrown Hotstar, which he tunes into for 'Game Of Thrones' and 'Modern Family', his favourite shows. According to the research, cable TV is seeing a viewership drop off in this particular demographic (Blip.tv viewers) of around 9 per cent compared to six months prior and that same demographics is watching around 26 per cent more online video (via PC), 19 per cent more on mobile devices and 18 per cent more on video consoles. Discussion with experts and going through some studies indicates that India is already a member of the multiple screen nation.

It was not too long ago that Indian news channels like their international counterparts set foot on the digital platform with news portals and mobile apps. Not just news channels, general Indian most-watched soap opera channels like Star Plus, Zee Tv, Sony Entertainment Television and Colours have their respective apps across Android, Windows and iOS; joining the bandwagon are channels like MTV India, Bindaas, Channel V etc. One enjoys the last dose of entertainment during travelling in the metro or before going to sleep.

The prime-time viewership of online web series is 8–11 pm, whereas the average viewer of a web series is a 33-years-old, college-educated person and almost evenly divided between men (51%) and women; what is somewhat surprising is that the original online video content is replacing the standard TV watching time. Usually, it was assumed that the time it is most watched is during working hours.

Another major reason people are switching to a digital mode of entertainment is because 35 per cent of the regular viewers feel banner ads to be a more favourable form of advertising as compared to television ads. Reason being, they don't make us wait to get our content back onscreen, the easiest way is to ignore it. After all, if the ads are banners displayed in the video player you can generally close them.

Though most of the new production houses feel continuing with the same format of getting fewer advertisements in future will be a big problem. Dev Sinha, marketing strategist, The Viral Fever (TVF), says, "As a vivid watcher myself, I am thankful for the free content I watch online but from the marketing mind I understand that without ads much of it wouldn't be possible. So currently most of the new production houses are accepting some ads, but a fraction is way less than what we see on TV and also even in coming years, advertisement would never eat up one's pleasure time ''.

The USP of these videos going "viral'' is due to the trend of getting Stand-up comedians on stage to add a little humour in order to break the monotonous cycle in this humdrum life. The last few years have also seen the rise of stand-up comedians in India, viewers have started demanding for more comedy, been more appreciative of this art form and have become more receptive to jokes on just about anything! It is no surprise that the creators and content of web series are getting more and more mainstream attention. Most importantly, it is way more different from what we watch on the television. Contrary to what certain country leaders think, most of us are able to sit through a YouTube comedy show without getting offended right off the bat about this and that. We want to see something different than the usual 'saas-bahu' sagas. Web series with innovative ideas give us what we have never seen before. In less than a decade, the online video industry has moved from a disconnected hodge-podge of animated shorts to a multi-billion industry.

With a 1.3 billion population and an estimated 400 million people with access to smartphones, web series are no longer catering to a niche demographic. India has the world's largest youth population at 365 million, and it is an audience that mainstream TV is losing in touch with mediums such as Youtube. Not only start up but well establishment brands in entertainment media are also taking the digital way, such as Bollywood's biggest studio Yashraj Films, have started the web only arm of their company called Y-Films and has produced shows. Dominating players like TVF, AIB, Scoop-Whoop and Hotstar, have made the mark.

Ultimately the question always comes down to "Will the popularity of web series overtake that of traditional media?" The answer lies amongst the viewers i.e the youth. Web series work best because they cater to niche markets. One of the best parts about creating for the web is that there's more freedom to explore and relate. Those niche audiences are what makes web-series so special. On the other hand, we should not try to make them fit within the scope of traditional media as it would be absurd rather let's enjoy the best time to be a TV aficionado. Because at the end of the day we all need to experience new medium of watching!!
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