A shift in Malayali’s viewing habits

Karikku was launched in YouTube in 2018.   | Photo Credit: TH

The jury for the State Television Awards which rejected all entries for television serial awards last week, and made scathing remarks on the abysmal quality of the content, had an important recommendation to make. It called for a widening of the scope of the awards to include web series and other online content, in what became an acknowledgement of an explosion of online content in Malayalam and a shift in viewing habits of the population over the past few years.

What began as short amateurish videos online some years ago has now gradually given way to more professional content, drawing in millions of viewers. Karikku, which was launched in YouTube in 2018, with the short humorous series Thera Para, is ahead of the rest of the pack as far as Malayalam content creation is concerned. It has a YouTube subscriber base of 7.4 million, which is more than that commanded by the official pages of some of the top entertainment and news channels in Malayalam. Some of its most popular videos have managed to reach 30 million hits.

Not just comedy

“Though we began with comic content, we have now branched out to tackle drama and thriller genres. Our core audience is in the 16-25 age group, but in the past one year, audience in the 25-50 age category has grown. We have now released mini series like Average Ambili, which is targetted at a television serial viewing audience, but at the same time appeals to the younger generation through its realistic treatment. The growth in popularity and mainstream acceptance will certainly bring in production companies from television to online platforms, a move which we are already witnessing in Tamil Nadu. The big OTT platforms, including Netflix are currently studying the content growth here, and we might see them investing in bigger series in the next one year, like they already do in Hindi,” says Nikhil Prasad, founder of Karikku.

Poster of Instagramam.

Poster of Instagramam.   | Photo Credit: TH

Mainstream actors too

Early this year, Instagramam, a web series directed by filmmaker Mridul Nair and set in a fictional village, was released in the streaming platform Neestream. The 10-episode series, starring a host of actors from mainstream films and television serials, is a pointer to the future, of a shift of artistes from television to web.

“Till now, most of the web series have been produced by hobbyists without expecting any income. Many see it as a stepping stone towards filmmaking. But the entire scenario will change if more producers and mainstream writers too enter the space. Mainstream Malayalam cinema’s popularity outside the State in recent years can be attributed to the shift to OTT platforms too. We might witness a similar demand for Malayalam web content too, with the right kind of support system,” says S. Jayakrishnan, co-founder of Mainstream TV, an OTT platform which also produces short series.

Series like Karikku generate revenue mostly from advertisements that are weaved into the script, and from the money generated from Youtube hits. This model has enabled it to provide remuneration for all its artistes and technicians too.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 8:12:10 PM |

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