Table of Contents
- Evolution of Content: Written and Visual
- Key Takeaways
As a child, your parents would’ve sat in front of a television screen and watched the 9 PM film screening on Doordarshan with ten other people – cousins, aunts, uncles, and neighbors. There was one T.V. in the house, and it belonged to everybody. Today, you watch the latest action flick on your phone, on a screen that fits in your pocket, with just one companion – your earphones.
Content in India has come such a long way—whether you talk about visual content like TV or advertisement or focus on written content in newspapers and magazines. Nothing is the same anymore. Even the public’s demand for new content has increased manifold. So much so that, in 2021, it was reported that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were being created every day. 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone. If this is not demand for information in the form of content, we don’t know what else is!
This article traces the evolution of content – both visual and written- across India’s ages.
Evolution of Content: Written and Visual
The written word has held a lot of importance for centuries. In India, once we got independence, the establishment of printing presses increased, and local and regional publications started mushrooming across the country.
The content you are reading and watching today has come a long way and has had a journey, a history. The channels and methods through which it is available have witnessed an evolution. As viewers, we have evolved too. Our tastes, preferences, and how we consume content have changed drastically. They have enabled and been the basis of a revolution in consuming, producing, and transmitting content.
The newspaperwala was a significant person in India of the 1990s. People had a habit of reading the newspaper with their morning tea. Sections would be divided between different family members to read their favorite topics. The Editor’s page was always a preference, someone else would read the sports section, and a third person would do the crossword. It was a family activity without the need to talk.
But today, the world over, the newspaper industry has been on a decline – due to loss in readership and revenue. Other forms of media – offering instant gratification – are more preferred.
According to a Forbes article, in 2020, the circulation (print and digital) of weekday newspapers was 24.3 million, and for Sunday newspapers, it was 25.8 million, both a year-over-year decline of 6%. In contrast, in 1990, the weekday newspaper circulation was 63.2 million, and it was 62.6 million for Sunday newspapers. This alone shows how newspapers continue to be the least important choice of consumers.
Remember Femina, Woman’s Era, Savvy, or even Readers’ Digest? Every middle-class Indian household had a pile of magazines (and newspapers) on the center table. It would be a pleasure to read stories from people from across the country. And learn new recipes or read up on the latest fashion trends.
Today, magazines are but a shade of what they used to be in their glory days. You have people posting their opinions on social media all the time. People read it instantly and react as well. Then there are organizations like Buzzfeed and ScoopWhoop curating enjoyable content for the millennial who receives their daily dose of entertainment online.
It all started with Doordarshan, a public broadcasting service with a Pan-India audience. Doordarshan screened programs are fondly remembered and still dearly missed by many Indians. These were comedy shows, music videos, films, interviews, government news, and many more niche programs.
These shows were produced and broadcasted for viewers with an Indian background and upbringing, who knew and understood Hindi and, most importantly, watched T.V. with their families. Doordarshan made shows for a large, family audience.
Over the years, the perception that television is to be watched with the family has changed in many ways and has been replaced entirely in some households. The T.V.-watching experience has shrunk to fit individuals’ screens and create a private viewing experience like no other.
OTT or over-the-top content
Enter Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney + Hotstar, and the countless other online video-streaming companies you can think of. These produce original, thrilling, funny, and relatable content for the global viewer who is no longer interested in adhering to the strict timetable of television shows.
Content has evolved from being mass-produced for a mass audience for mass consumption to being increasingly tailor-made for the individual viewer for private, customized consumption. Today we watch what we want and when we want, and we have the content revolution to thank for it.
While content consumption has undergone a tremendous change to become a personal, individual experience, content production has adapted, too. If the content is accessible remotely from a bedroom or a phone screen and at any time of the day, production, too, needs to be fast-paced. In this lies the danger of inauthenticity. Today, media channels aimlessly dole out content for the individual viewer. Often, that content video, episode, or article can be run-of-the-mill as if it is produced for the sake of producing and not for delivering original, entertaining content to the audience.
Social media took the world by storm about 15 years ago. While you did have websites like Orkut for social networking, it was Facebook that captured the minds of their young audience. As it grew, so did apps like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok! It became a revolution that completely changed the way we consume content.
YouTube is another platform that allows people from all across the world to create content for each other. The YouTube community is wholesome and accessible, allowing viewers and creators to comment on each other’s work, collaborate and connect. Content production no longer takes place behind the closed doors of a multi-million-dollar studio. It takes place in people’s homes, offices, and other independent working spaces. That’s how far we have come.
To supplement the dearth of relatable content that is not based on the Ramayana but is more individualized and modern, people have begun creating short, quick, and entertaining content.
TikTok is a prime example of such content. When this app was introduced, it broke the charts right away. People were making videos for themselves, their friends, and their built audience to create that private, closed-community viewing experience that is so unique and contemporary. Gen-Y especially took it upon itself to cater to its content needs. The content was being produced on the streets and in schools and colleges and in such volume that the internet exploded. Tik Tok has had as much of a hand in revolutionizing content consumption, and production as Netflix or any other streaming platform has
Even consider Instagram reels. The experimental feature on the app brought about a drastic change in how people view and post content. The app eventually completely changed its algorithm to get reels more engagement over the last year alone! That’s how dynamic content has become today.
All these channels put together have created the content boom we live in and experience today.
- The public’s demand for new content has increased manifold. So much so that, in 2021, it was reported that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were being created every day.
- 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone.
- According to a Forbes article, in 2020, the circulation (print and digital) of weekday newspapers was 24.3 million, and for Sunday newspapers, it was 25.8 million, both a year-over-year decline of 6%. In contrast, in 1990, the weekday newspaper circulation was 63.2 million, and it was 62.6 million for Sunday newspapers.
- Organizations like Buzzfeed and ScoopWhoop curate enjoyable content for the millennial who receives their daily dose of entertainment online.
- Over the years, the perception that television is to be watched with the family has changed in many ways and has been replaced entirely in some households. The T.V.-watching experience has shrunk to fit individuals’ screens and create a private viewing experience like no other.
- Content production no longer takes place behind the closed doors of a multi-million-dollar studio. It takes place in people’s homes, offices, and other independent working spaces. That’s how far we have come.
Hasn’t it been an amazing journey for content in India? When you go back 40 years, the world of content seemed so different, and today it is something else altogether.
That is the nature and dynamism of content. AI is already making its mark in how we consume content. The evolution of content will continue far into the future.
– SEO Research
Content marketing is a process, that, if done well can engage and build relationships with customers for a long time. Content marketing helps brands maintain a positive customer experience by guiding them through their consumer journey.
According to Hubspot, 82% of marketers used content marketing in 2021. This figure was up 70% from 2020! This is enough to say that content marketing is on the rise and will continue to evolve.
Believe it or not, the phrase “content is king” was written by Microsoft founder Bill Gates in 1996 in an essay. This is when he described the future of the Internet as a content marketplace.
“Content is King” means that unique, high-quality, interesting, and relevant content will always be consumed by the audience and be a factor in companies’ success.