Can India Join the Nations Becoming Major Exporters of Entertainment and Media?

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Boiling them down to broad regional markets, the occidental market of North America and Western Europe hosts the biggest entertainment and media market. The spending per capita hits some $2,229 in North America and a little over half of that in Western Europe. The Asia Pacific region, on the other hand, only has a per capita spend of $224. The region has a huge customer base that’s willing to fork out a lot of money to acquire and enjoy popular entertainment products, be they movies, video games, albums, or TV shows. So, many nations have sought to export the successful lines of their entertainment industries to these markets.

As India’s film industry already rakes in billions each year alone, the country would seem primed for some international success. There are some pockets of breakthroughs that can be seen, such as the relative flop that was Saaho earning 30 Cr of its 210 Cr at the international box office, as well as the use of India as a theme or setting, but given the popularity and sheer level of production of Indian content, it’s strange that India isn’t already alongside other breakout nations in the western market. 

Breaking into the west without pandering to the English language

Naturally, the biggest entertainment consumer market in the west is the US, with the UK and Canada close in tow. All are mostly English-speaking countries, but over the last decade or so, there have been a great many “foreign language” products, acts, and talents breaking out to become hugely popular. One of the most famous is the South Korean success story of K-Pop. It all started just before the 2012 London Olympics when PSY’s Gangnam Style became a worldwide sensation and the first video to exceed one billion views on YouTube. It’s currently on 4.46 billion views. Since PSY broke out of Korea, many have followed, including BTS, SuperM, Girls’ Generation, IU, Zico, and BoA.

It’s not just Korean that’s being tuned into across the English airwaves, though, with a gluttony of Spanish-language songs and albums breaking into the charts. Yahoo! Finance points to the Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit Despacito as the catalyst for the second Latin explosion. Now, many English-language artists have pivoted to include a Spanish verse or two, but the stars of the show are increasingly Latin tracks. Most recently, Cataluña-native Rosalía released her third studio album, Motomami, with it getting voted as the favored new music release of its opening week, besting the likes of Nicki Minaj, Carrie Underwood, and Normani in the US.

Music is a somewhat strange medium to break through to English markets or any market that’s not of its native language due to the language barrier. That said, music can still relay its sentiment through sound and quality alone. In visual mediums, speech is essential to the experience, and for a long time, there has been a stigma around subtitles. Now, as NME finds, younger audiences are far more inclined to have subtitles on – a whopping 80 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds, in fact. This looks to have paved the way for non-English breakouts like Japan’s Squid Games, Korea’s Kingdom, Spain’s La Casa de Papel, France’s Lupin, and Germany’s Das Boot, Barbaren, Dark, and Babylon Berlin.

Perhaps the most notable trend sweeping across entertainment right now is that of anime. A fad among adults across western markets, people are watching stacks of anime movies and series, taking anime quizzes, and buying spin-off anime video games. Colossal properties often spawned from manga like Attack on Titan, Death Note, Ghost in the Shell, One Piece, Naruto, Detective Conan, and Sailor Moon are all enjoying massive viewing figures outside of Japan, with some of the lesser-known properties outside of Japan, like Hajime No Ippo and Berserk, also getting increased attention. Platforms specializing in this content, like Crunchyroll, are at an all-time high right now. For the most part, it’s all in Japanese with several subtitle options.

India’s potential breakout bubbling up

There are a few key signs that interest in India – and, potentially, as a result, its entertainment and media content – are picking up beyond the Asia Pacific region. First, India’s stunning scenery has been utilized as a setting in several box-office hits, including Delhi and Pataudi in Eat Pray Love, Mumbai in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and Jodhpur in The Dark Knight Rises. Iconic imagery of India has also grown in popularity amongst the ocean of different themes in online entertainment. Mixed in among Ancient Greek, vampires, spies, Rome, dragons, and Ancient Egypt, online casino sites have also seen Indian-themed slots get a lot of attention. The big hitters right now include Wild Orient, the Taj Mahal-set Ultra Blazing Fire Link, and Amber Sterling’s Mystic Shrine. Bollywood has also been drawn on in the massive cinematic draw that is the MCU, with long-time fan and actor Kumail Nanjiani tasked with being an immortal and a Bollywood actor in The Eternals.

The massive interest from international brands in India also looks to have a knock-on effect of increased exposure to Indian content. Platforms looking to muscle in on the online entertainment scene have found that the Indian audience wants home-grown content and localization, leading to those looking for subscriptions investing big money in creating new local content. Those shows and movies then sit on the platform for people subscribing in other nations around the world. Just as Squid Games did, they have a chance to climb up the rankings for massive exposure. If the product is of a high standard, people around the world will flock to see it. Already, Bollywood movies have seen increased popularity across Africa, South Korea, New Zealand, the US, and especially in Ireland, per reports from Tecxipio.

Having a greater presence on region-connecting platforms, alongside an ever-increasing desire among viewers to experience entertainment from other countries, could well result in India being the next big breakout country in western markets.

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