For the better part of the past decade, broadcasters around the world have seen their numbers erode as viewers turn their backs on mid-budget local programs and acquisitions from U.S. networks and gravitate toward sexy, boundary-breaking dramas with universal appeal from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. In recent years, those broadcasters and telcos have disrupted their traditional models to win back their audiences, dishing out money for expensive output deals with studios, investing in platform technology and commissioning original shows that are more reflective of their societies. They’re betting big on the power of local — and it’s a gamble they can’t afford to lose.
Variety has partnered with U.K.-based consultancy Ampere Analysis to delve into the top local and regional ad-supported and pay TV services in the Middle East (Shahid VIP), India (ALTBalaji), Australia (Stan), France (OCS), Germany (Joyn) and the U.K. (ITV Hub) — all of which aim to provide complementary alternatives to global players. Most recognize they can’t go toe-to-toe with the giants on billion-dollar budgets for original programming — and they don’t want to. In many ways, they have what Netflix and Amazon Prime still lack: a rich history with their customers and an inimitable understanding of local ecosystems. The question for most, however, is whether their local-content-focused strategies can get the necessary buy-in to turn a profit and keep viewers engaged.