New Delhi, May 23 (FN Bureau) Swedish audiobook streaming platform Storytel is witnessing strong growth in subscriber addition in India, and is working on further strengthening its content catalogue in local languages. In Speaking Storytel India Country Manager Yogesh Dashrath said the demand for content in regional languages has gone up significantly in the past few years and continues to be on the rise. ‘We launched in India in November 2017 and had started with English, Hindi and Marathi. Today, we have 12 languages here.
‘We have grown together with the audiobook industry and have helped grow it as well, especially in Indian languages where we are very strong. The overall growth (in India) has been strong,’ he said. The company has over 1.5 million subscribers globally and has a presence in over 20 countries. Recently, Storytel partnered with music streaming platform Spotify, which will allow existing Storytel subscribers to connect their account through Spotify to access their audiobooks within the Spotify app. Storytel, which competes with Audible (a part of e-commerce giant Amazon), is also expanding its starter subscription plan ‘Select’ for Rs 149, apart from its ‘Unlimited’ plan (Rs 299) that allows access to all 11 languages along with English.
The aim is to keep the offer choice to people who want to listen to Indian languages only or also the premium international titles in English, Dashrath said. ‘We were seeing doubled interest in the consumption of audiobooks in languages other than English, which is when we decided to launch an India specific plan, which lets one enjoy audiobooks in their language at an affordable pricing,’ he said. He added that expanding Storytel ‘Select’ is in sync with its strategy of going local and understanding customer needs better. ‘In many of the Indian languages (that are available on Storytel) are not that common, in some of them, there were no audiobooks at all. ‘So, our focus is on building a catalogue for these languages. In fact, in the last 12 months we have produced more than 1,000 audio titles in 10 languages put together,’ Dashrath said.
He added that the emphasis is on bringing great literature for subscribers. Alongwith the acquired titles, the company is also creating original content. These are short series of 10 episodes each, which are made in-house at Storytel. These are written exclusively to be made into audio, unlike the books, which makes the narration much more interesting and gripping, he said. In terms of consumption patterns, personal development, business books and biographies are popular in English, classics are most popular in regional languages. There is an increasing consumption of crime and romance content across all languages. ‘Our originals are in regional languages (Hindi, Marathi) created by a team of publishers here in India.
The kind of content you will find ranges from kid stories, love stories- to having a series about demonetisation/beef ban etc,’ he said. Indian personalities who have read audiobooks for Storytel include Anupam Kher, Konkona Sensharma and Rahul Bose. Anita Nair and Ravinder Singh have written exclusively for audio and narrated their own audiobooks on Storytel. Globally, the audiobook market was estimated to be approximately USD 4 billion in 2020, and is expected to grow to USD 20 billion in the next 10 years. Currently, the trade book market (exclusive educational titles) in India is estimated to be anywhere from USD 500 million to USD 750 million.