Media experts say even small Malayalam films can now demand Rs. 20-30 crore, equivalent to a mid-sized Hindi film.
The year 2021 has worked great for the South Indian content on OTT across four languages and their dubbed versions. There has been a boost in the viewerships of these contents as well. The content has been grabbing eyeballs and as much as 10% of the overall viewing minutes of the audience. And the maximum viewership for the south Indian content is from the west and north Indian states. According to Mint, states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi NCR accounted for 75% of viewership for dubbed films.
One of the top 10 non-English films on Netflix has been the film Minnal Murali with 5.9 million viewing hours in the last week of December while Jai Bhim, Sarpatta Parambarai and Soorarai Pottru are among Amazon Prime Video’s biggest hits. The much-awaited film RRR is also said to be dubbed in foreign languages like Spanish, Portuguese and Korean for Netflix after its theatrical run on release.
The streaming giant also had great success with its Tamil anthology Navarasa. It featured in the Top 10 in 10 countries and more than 40% of the viewers were from outside India on the first week of its release. Other films like Nayattu (Malayalam), Andhaghaaram (Tamil), Pitta Kathalu (Telugu), Paava Kadhaigal (Tamil), Cinema Bandi (Telugu) and Mandela (Tamil) have been featured in the Top 10 on the streaming platform in the last one year.
Pratiksha Rao, director, films and licensing, Netflix India, told Mint that OTT growth in the country has enabled storytelling by a new generation of incredibly talented stars and storytellers from South India. "They continue to set new standards with their authentic and relatable stories across genres," she told the portal. The OTT player is expanding its slate of content to have original series and films of South Indian languages and has also now started another Twitter handle solely for conversations on south Indian films. Earlier, Prime Video India had revealed that 50% of the audiences for the south Indian languages come from outside their respective home states and they are watched in over 170 countries globally.
Regional films are attracting viewership around the world especially because they offer unique films which highlight their traditions, culture, locations, and so on, believes Gautam Jain, the partner at media consulting firm Ormax. And according to Mansi Shrivastava, senior vice-president and head-content acquisitions at MX Player, dubbed versions of these films are one of the major categories on any OTT platform. The OTT player is now looking at increasing stakes in the southern and south dub movie categories as she believes these films offer fresh storylines that are different from the Hindi content, which is currently focussing on making a lot of biopics and war films. "They have great music and production values, there is action, humour and a complete package on offer," she told the portal.
ZEE5 India too plans to increase its stake in the south regional content by four times as they believe the language barrier does not matter if the content is good.
Media experts said acquisition prices for southern films are only going to increase in 2022. According to Mint, experts believe even small Malayalam films can now demand Rs. 20-30 crore, equivalent to a mid-sized Hindi film.