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In-depth: What is fuelling the growth of Korean & Turkish content in India

Korean and Turkish dramas have a huge fan following in India, making OTT platforms and channels bring in more content from across the borders

With the emergence of OTT platforms and an open gate for foreign content, Indian audiences are being drawn to fiction and historical shows from afar. There is a big fan following and audience for non-English content, like Korean and Turkish dramas in the country today.

Korean films like ‘Parasite’ and shows like ‘Squid Game’, ‘All of us are dead’ are wooing the audiences with their interesting and innovative storylines. People in India are crazy about Korean music and there’s even an Indian BTS Army (BTS is a Korean music band). Similarly, Turkish dramas like ‘Feriha’, ‘Bezim Hikaye’, ‘Dirilis: Ertugrul’, transported people to their world and made them crave for more.

The growth in Korean and Turkish content consumption in India

MX Player has witnessed 5x growth in Korean content and 2x growth in Turkish content over the past 18 months. 

Mansi Shrivastav

Mansi Shrivastav, SVP and Head – Content Acquisitions and Alliances, MX Player, said, “We have always seen a keen loyal following for Korean and Turkish content on our platform. International content used to be just 5% of the platform consumption at the start of the lockdown but that has grown to between 25% to 30% right now.”

A recent report also suggested a 2.5x increase in Korean language learners in India compared to the previous year.

A spokesperson from Netflix said, “We believe that great stories can come from anywhere and be loved everywhere. Stories made in Korea are being watched and loved all over the world, and India is no exception. The ever-growing fandom of Korean stories and characters in India is a testament to that.” 

Amit Shah

Amit Shah, Chief Cluster Officer – North, West and Premium Channels, Zee Entertainment Enterprises, said, “The Korean motion picture has seen a surge in popularity in recent times and ‘Hallyuwood’ has developed a huge fan base across the world. Indians also haven’t been behind in showcasing their love for K-movies, K-dramas, K-beauty and more. With the increasing demand for Korean and Turkish content, the investment has also increased with time. Platforms are investing heavily in the production of content in such languages.” 

Shrivastav of MX Player, added, “To ensure more options for our viewers we are actively adding many Turkish and Korean dramas to our line-up by collaborating with leading distributors.”

Factors fuelling the rise of Korean and Turkish content consumption

The content platforms told that dubbing and subtitles play a major role in making these stories accessible to a much wider audience in the language they truly enjoy.

Shah of Zee Entertainment Enterprises, commented, “Dubbing and subtitling have also played a major role in helping these stories become more accessible to audiences in India. Viewers are able to enjoy this content much more since it is served to them in a language of their choice.” 

He further said that the lockdown has amplified the reach of Korean content with people developing an interest in learning the language and Zee’s Korean content line-up is well received by the audience owing to their relatable theme, emotional connect, and presentation. 

“The growth of interest in K-Dramas can be attributed to relevant storylines and themes. The charming actors and emotional stories bind the audience through relatability,” added Shah.

Last year, Zee English Cluster partnered with the Korean Cultural Centre India to bring to its audience Korean content across Zee Café, &Flix and &PrivéHD.

Content platforms buckle up to meet the growing demand for Korean and Turkish content in India

MX player has launched MX Vdesi – offering a large catalogue of international shows, dubbed in seven local languages. Some of the shows are ‘Love is in the Air’, ‘Day Dreamer’, ‘Endless Love’, ‘Goblin’, ‘Dr Romantic’, ‘Heirs’ to name a few. 

On the other hand, Zee’s English Cluster Korean content line-up includes K-dramas and K-movies across channels. Shows on Zee Café such as ‘Descendants of the Sun’, ‘Boys Over Flowers and Bread’, ‘Love and Dreams’. 

Shah of Zee said, “We received heavy demand from the audience post the telecast of the first three dramas and thus the channel has now introduced a new property ‘Hallyu Nights’ with which we are showcasing new K-Dramas every day at 7 pm. We will be airing a coming-of-age drama ‘School 2017’ to start off within April.”

Netflix started working with Korean filmmakers and talent in 2016. Since then, they have presented over 80 original Korean shows and films to its members around the world. It has invested nearly $500 million in Korea in 2021 to fulfil the appetite for Korean content for its audience.

Who is the audience for Korean and Turkish content in India?

Although many people love watching a great story, every type of content has a target audience, and for Korean and Turkish shows the major volume of the audience is from the age group of 18-34. The craze of Korean as Korean music/dramas has become a prominent subculture among GenZ and millennials who seek new experiences. 

Zee’s Shah said that on the basis of region, Korean shows have higher affinity in the East region and Upper North. In these regions, the content is getting good traction as compared to core Hindi shows. Gender-wise, the content is mostly watched by women.

On the contrary, MX’s Shrivastav said that, while the core user base is from the metro and Tier 1 cities, they have seen that the appeal of such shows is all across India. Smaller towns in far-flung places have also shown a large appetite for Korean and Turkish dubbed shows. She said, “These users are big on binge behaviour with high stickiness. Our consumption data shows that users watch many episodes of each show indicating high commitment levels.”

Marketing acts as a buoyant force for the rise in Korean and Turkish content consumption in India

When it comes to marketing and promotions of foreign language content like Turkish and Korean language drama, platforms create interesting marketing/promotional strategies to build the hype around the show. 

Last year during Diwali, Zee Cafe collaborated with @Supaarwoman fame Supriya Joshi to depict a typical K-Drama fan’s celebration of Diwali.

Shah of Zee said, “We have also been constantly engaging and interacting with fans on social media. In order to not only reach but to really engage our audiences, we approach the social media window as another platform to further delight our consumers with great content.”

The campaign done by Zee Cafe in collaboration with Supriya Joshi:


A post shared by Zee Cafe (@zeecafeindia)


A post shared by Zee Cafe (@zeecafeindia)


A post shared by Supriya (@supaarwoman)


A post shared by Supriya (@supaarwoman)

MX Player relies heavily on social media to promote its foreign languages content. Shrivastav said, “Almost 50% of our international viewers discover international content on social media or because it was recommended by a friend.”

He further said, “We were aware of the keen loyalty of these user cohorts. We knew they visit the platform more regularly and hence conceptualised the MX Vdesi brand. The MX Vdesi brand is very well known to viewers of international content through TV, print, and social media. Our core user base is actively involved in searching for international content outside the app as well.”

From where it began…

Zee’s Zindagi Channel was the initiator of Turkish content in India with the broadcast of ‘Feriha’, it was a huge success that the protagonist of the show actress Hazal Kaya was called for Jio MAMI 2016 to talk about Turkish content. Similarly, Anupam Tripathi, an Indian origin Korean actor playing a significant role in Netflix’s Squid Game became the talk of the town when the show was launched in 2021.

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