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Snapchat to strengthen bet on Indian originals

NEW DELHI :

Building on its revival strategy in India, Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, primarily known for short, disappearing stories, is strengthening its original content slate to cash in on the increasing popularity of short form videos in the country. The company that specializes in videos, both fiction and non-fiction, ranging from three to five minutes, announced 120 new episodes for 2022 at a virtual event called Snap in India on Wednesday.

To create these mobile-first shows, Snapchat has partnered with Sony Entertainment Television and Zee TV, besides offering a platform to Internet content makers such as Shehnaaz Gill, Avneet Kaur, Harsh Beniwal and Sushant Divgikar. A new series Retro Rewind featuring Ruhi Singh, Adnan Shaikh, Samiksha Sood, and Vishal Panday started streaming on Wednesday, said the company that has also announced the localized Hinglish version of international Snap original Phone Swap that, with 16 million users, is one of its most-watched shows in India.

According to an earlier Mint report, Snapchat clocked 102.4 million downloads on Google Play Store in India between January and August.

“The potential (of the Indian market) is incredibly promising for us—it has become a daily habit for Indians to use their mobile devices for news and entertainment—which is why we’ve curated made-for-mobile shows with a commitment to robust local content,” Vanessa Guthrie, head of original Content at Snap Inc. said. “We have made significant investments to localize the Snapchat experience for the Indian community. We have added culturally relevant content, developed active and creative local creator communities, and invested in local products, marketing initiatives, and language support,” added Guthrie declining to share investment figures for the country.

According to a recent report by global management consulting firm Bain & Company, the short-form video market, which includes user-generated videos or those brought out by creators and influencers on both homegrown apps like Moj, MX Taka Tak, Roposo and others that emerged in the wake of the TikTok ban as well as those backed by foreign players such as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, has exploded over the past two years-growing 3.5 times in user base and 12 times in total time spent across platforms. More than 200 million Indians watched short videos at least once in 2020, with an active user spending up to 45 minutes a day on these platforms.

“Democratization of content on short video platforms is helping unearth hidden creative talent in India. Short-video platforms and new businesses are offering to address creator needs right from training, content creation support, relationship management, to monetization, financing, and analytics,” Arpan Sheth, senior partner at Bain had told Mint.

The ‘Discover’ content section on Snapchat has 70 local Indian channels across news, fitness, fashion, entertainment and comedy through partnerships with broadcasters and media companies such as Times Group, Mashable India, The Quint, Vitamin Stree and Filmfare, the company said; it is more than 200% over Q2 of 2020. Daily time spent watching shows and publisher content has increased 150% year-on-year (Q2FY21 vs Q2FY20), with over 125 million unique viewers having watched a show in India on the platform. The service currently hosts titles such as What’s On My Plate with Anushka Sen and Vir Das-The Most Epic Max Show with a combined 16 million viewers for the two.

Apart from content, the firm also announced a host of product partnerships to bolster the localized experience for users. Snap has tied up with homegrown e-commerce marketplace, Flipkart, to develop AR (artificial reality) experiences to aid shoppers in their e-commerce engagement journey. It is also enabling virtual try-ons for users, as brands such as Sugar Cosmetics and MyGlamm have adopted its AR shopping beta programme to offer virtual beauty and make-up try-on experiences to consumers. Other partners include Samsung Mobile, short video app Josh and food delivery service Zomato, through which Snap users will have access to restaurant information and be able to place food orders through the platform.

Along with games such as Ludo Cub, which in six months has been played by over 27 million users, with nearly 30% of them coming from India, Snapchat said it is also seeing traction for its Creator Marketplace, which allows brands to connect with creators directly and pay them to produce branded content with 100% of the transaction going to the creator. Net new advertisers for the platform itself have grown by 70% in 2020, including from sectors such as FMCG, e-commerce, entertainment, video streaming, mobile wallets, and others.

“We will continue to anchor our efforts around celebrating local culture and talent, while growing and providing resources for our community of Indian creators,” said Snap co-founder and chief executive officer Evan Spiegel, adding that the platform had reached 100 million monthly users in India.

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