3 Key Trends That Will Drive The Indian Digital Content Consumption - EY Report

Multiple content formats, digital gaming, Omniplatform content consumption, changing face of rural consumers, among others are the key trends listed in EY's report on Future of digital consumption in India


According to the latest We Are Social Digital in India Jan 2016 report, 375 million people are active internet users out of a total population of 1319 million. It isn’t surprising since mobile is driving the content consumption boom. The report says 84% own mobile phones of all types (33% smartphones) who spend more than 3 hours browsing the internet. In fact 21% of the population are using mobile for messaging activities followed by video consumption (17%) and gaming (13%).

Content consumption is on the rise and mobile is making it possible for the user. For a marketer this is a big opportunity as well as a challenge. To simplify the problems of the marketer, EY a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services recently released a report – Future of digital consumption in India. The report identifies important trends that will shape the future of content consumption in the country.

Listed below are three major trends that will drive the digital content consumption in India.

Multiple content formats

The report says that the rapid up-take of connected devices and broadband connectivity will be instrumental in media consumption shifting beyond traditional media formats such as broadcast and cable TV towards digital mediums.

“We expect to see a significant increase in different formats of media being consumed online across episodes, films, short form content, news, gaming, social interaction and education. The basics have now shifted from roti, kapda, makaan to roti, kapda, escapism. This use of smaller screens on personal devices will fuel “personal escapism” (watching content individually) as opposed to “group escapism” (watching TV in the living room).”


However, this will have no immediate impact on TV viewership, there will be an increase in the time spent online.

This trend evolves from the very fact that smartphone penetration in India is expected to grow to 520 million by 2020, making India one of the largest smartphone economies in the world.

Last Diwali, Hotstar, the online streaming app for TV serials and movies came up with a campaign that insisted users to go solo, when other brands were talking about festivals and bonding.

Content consumption patterns are changing and the convenience of consumption is what is driving this evolution. Even content creation is evolving shared Ekalavya Bhattacharya who recently joined ALT Digital as Chief Strategy Officer. “Earlier it was all about the gut, now we are seeing a hybrid of gut + data + science. Geographically-agnostic content – That’s one thing I’m personally really bullish about.”

With multiple devices, you can’t have the same content pushed in all devices. Gone are the days when marketers can push the TV ads on their YouTube channel and claim how they have cracked the YouTube engagement model.

“Consumers have shown increased preference towards shortform content; with the average length of video viewed in India being less than 20 minutes. In addition, 62% of the content consumed on YouTube is short-form content. This trend has led content producers like Eros International, Star and new age content creators to focus on exclusive and snackable content,” adds the report.

Multiple screens will drive content consumption

Content consumption patterns have changed. There is currently an unwritten rule that the television serves as the primary screen and that other screens, whether they be tablet, “phablet” or mobile, are all secondary. “We are entering an era where all screens will work seamlessly together — they will just happen to come in a wide range of sizes.”

The diagram below shows the different devices/formats of media consumption used by people across different day parts, with the size of the circles depicting the time spent during the day part.


The above diagram simply indicates more work and brain storming for marketers. “All linear content does not always work on digital formats, and there are different content types and formats which they would need to create to address the digital Indian.”

For media companies, this has significant implications – Vox is already doing it by creating news for social media and The Economist is now publishing on messaging app Line. “While Facebook serves up content relevant to each user, and Twitter Moments is more breaking-news driven, Line will prioritize more visually compelling and evergreen content. It will post cartoons, quotes and arresting photos, as well as use the push notifications feature to publish breaking news pieces, explainers, promoting features like its print front cover every Thursday,” reported Digiday.

In India The Quint, mobile first digital news platform is an excellent example; its investing on a variety of video content & platforms to engage with mobile user. “We often have short videos embedded within a primarily text piece  – to make the experience more visual for the reader. And we write a text piece for every video just in case the viewer is in a low connectivity area,” Ritu Kapur, Director at Quintillion Media, the parent company of The Quint had informed LI last year.

Rural consumers & e-celebrities

“Currently 45% of online users consume regional language content and this percentage is expected to increase with the growth of internet users,” informed the EY report. The growth is expected Rural_Content_Consumptionto be fueled by availability of low-cost smart phones, low rates of data plans and development of smart cities in rural areas.

Also, the preference of the Indian consumers towards vernacular and regional language content is constantly on the upswing, with 93% of the time spent on videos in Hindi and other regional languages.

Mid last year, Google India stated that, “Hindi content consumption on Internet is growing at 94%. “While there are an estimated 500 million speakers of Hindi, there are just 100,000 Wikipedia articles. India’s Internet population is growing really fast, from 100 million users in 2011, we are now the world’s second largest Internet base with 300 million users and we are well-poised to touch 500 million base by 2017,” Google India Marketing Director Sandeep Menon had told PTI.

According to the IAMAI report, the overall digital advertising spends in India will be Rs. 3,575 crore, by the end of December 2015. The proportion of digital ad spends in the local language will be 5 percent of the entire market at Rs. 179 crore. “With the increasing availability of digital content in local languages, this share is expected to reach nearly 30 percent of the overall digital advertising spends, by the year 2020.”

The growth of vernacular content and rural consumers has led to the growth of regional e-celebrities. YouTube, the largest video social network is empowering regional e-celebrities, Put Chutney is one such YouTube channel that is sharing original and witty south side stories. “What if Batman was from Chennai” launched 9 months ago has 2 million plus views. Marketers tapping regional TG can look out for such content creators.

Digital content consumption is on the rise like never before; while marketers understand the change in behavior, they’ll have to brainstorm extensively as TV is no more the only screen – today multiple devices and multiple social networks, apps are driving content consumption during different times of the day. A marketer has to be ready for all this in this fast paced ever-changing digital world.