From AIR to AIB: How entertainment content has exploded over the past 15 years

Swetha Ramakrishnan

Dec 31, 2015 13:13:43 IST

There was a time when we would hear cricket commentary on the radio because the only information available on your phone was the 'Snake' high score. There was a time when watching TV meant watching Cartoon Network in the morning, MTV Select in the afternoon and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi at night. There was no Tata Sky and no TiVo. That was the early 2000s.

Cut to 2015. It's a Sunday afternoon, and you're bored. It's raining, so your TV isn't working. Your laptop is at the workshop for repairs. But you've no reason to worry because if you feel like reading a book you have your kindle. If you feel like scrolling through Youtube for inspiration on what to wear for your New Year's eve party, you can just whip out your phone (that you were just playing Temple Run on) and there's always the good old iPad in case you feel like streaming your favourite TV show.

The key takeaway from aforementioned examples is - choice. When it comes to how entertainment content was consumed 15 years ago, versus how it is being consumed today, we are spoilt for choices. Our gadgets have increased, but so has the vast ocean of innumerable options to choose from. Some will agree that this increased avenue for entertainment content — be it Youtube, Hotstar, our new penchant for webseries or thematic podcasts — could be a compliance to demand. We no longer want to go to a comedy club to watch our favorite comedian, and we no longer need to visit the neighbourhood club to watch our favorite musician perform.

 From AIR to AIB: How entertainment content has exploded over the past 15 years

AIB. Youtube screen grab

Even in 2015, we, as an audience, are still sitting in our homes, waiting to be entertained; the avenues, however, have exploded.

Take for example, All Indian Bakc***. From comedy shows to a podcast on Soundcloud to their massively growing Youtube channel, to now Hotstar; they've travelled far to make sure we still laugh at their jokes. In an interview with Medianama this year, Tanmay Bhat revealed that quality content is the key to still be relevant in 2015, "Last year, we were going from sketch to sketch. Now we are trying to get into doing one video every two months. But the key is to make sure that the quality consistency remains the same. Having said that, take a look at the channel of someone like Kanan (Gill). Kanan hasn’t put out a lot of videos but the ones he has, have really exploded."

One of the videos that really got AIB noticed was their spoof of Yash Raj's Dhoom 3 and that is because of the sheer reach of this studio. At the time, AIB was pitted against Yash Raj because the latter couldn't take a joke on their own film. Little did we know that just a year later, Yash Raj themselves would venture into the digital space in massive numbers. With their Y Films doling out smaller, indie films to their new web series Bang Baaja Baarat  that has clocked in over million views on Youtube, YRF seems to have made a mark in the digital game.


Angira Dhar and Ali Fazal from YRF's Bang Baaja Baarat. Image from Youtube.

"We have always wanted to remain relevant to the audience. With Y films, we could test and experiment and we have also made sure thematically, the content we choose is relevant to our growing audience. It all started with a movie called Mujhse Fraandship Karoge, which is a take on romance in the digital age. We even had an animated series for our film Love Ka The End. We are the world's younges country, and are crossing to over a billion handsets. The demand is high," says Ashish Patil, VP- Y-Films, Brand Partnerships & Talent Management at YRF.

Over time the Y films Youtube channel has grown from 18,000 subscribers to over 200,000 subscribers, and one of the reasons for that could be their highly popular web series Man's World and Bang Baaja Baarat. "With these shows we've definitely ventured into more specified content. But beyond survival, and the fact that doing web shows are plain fun, from a larger perspective, it allows us to work with new writers, actors and crew members, that YRF can create a longer relationship with," adds Patil.

This expansion is not just limited to smaller screens and bigger screens. We are getting more specific as a generation. You want to learn how to apply a winged eyeliner? Youtube to the rescue. You want to know which Harry Potter character is your soulmate? Enter Buzzfeed. You want to know what Kylie Jenner is wearing to a house party later this weekend? Instagram to the rescue. You want to know what videos are going viral over the world? Scroll through Mashable.

This is also probably the reason why a music channel like MTV India can co-exist with MTV Indies. We now have a separate and successful channel, wholly dedicated to the underground Indie music scene in India. "MTV started a property called MTV Roots from where the whole idea of Indies was born. And because indie music has such a distinct identity, it wasn't fair to club it with MTV India, which caters to our Bollywood audience. People are inherently too caught up with life to go exploring. Music videos plastered 24/7 on TV makes the process of sampling music slightly easier," says Titus Pinto, a Content and Digital executive at MTV Indies.


A Youtube screen grab from an MTV Indies video.

"Indie music has existed since the early seventies in India. It was about time somebody put it on a platform that transcends the typical indie stage with the regular few with a pint of beer in their hand. Also, what better way than the quintessential TV to showcase music like this? It works because sooner or later format fatigue is going to kick in (maybe it already has). People are going to look for music beyond Bollywood, beyond music that they are force-fed," he adds.

There is one conclusion to draw with regard to growing entertainment content. 15 years later, if you have a demand, there will be a supply, no matter how small. We now have wedding photographers solely dedicated to taking candid shots at your wedding. Move over pot-bellied photographers with massive flash lights. You want a romantic pre-wedding film to flaunt on social media? You can have it. It brings us to a crucial question. What happens 15 years later?

Check out Firstpost's collection on how the past 15 years transformed sports, entertainment, technology and more in F.Rewind.

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Updated Date: Dec 31, 2015 19:11:25 IST