Traditionally hyperlocal and regional news in India has remained under the domain of print or regional tv channels. This has led to most public news apps concentrating on pan-India or internal news updates to entice metropolitan readers thus leaving out a large chunk of potential rural small-town readers. However, this trend seems to be changing.
Smartphone usage in tier 2 and 3 cities, as well as rural India, has been on the rise. This is due to the falling prices of these smartphone devices combined with the widespread availability of cheap internet data from telecom providers. A large number of telecom companies in India have decided to concentrate on internet solutions for rural India, particularly tier 2 and 3 cities. The quantity of mobile users in rural India has always been higher as investing in a laptop and almost impossible access to broadband internet has never interested them. This has ushered in the rise of hyperlocal news apps to target these long-overlooked customers.
By targeting specific regions, states, or even districts, these regional news apps are able to win over a large chunk of users who would have otherwise not been interested in a general news app. For example someone in the district of Rangareddy, Telangana would be more inclined to download and use a hyperlocal news app concentrating on only telugu news updates, rather than a larger pan-India news app that barely focuses on their region. Additionally, these regional news apps are localized in that specific region’s language rather than going the traditional method of just English and Hindi that the larger India news apps follow.
People accessing the internet on their smartphones in rural India do so mainly for video content followed by communication or social networking in a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). This has led to regional news apps recognizing a gap that they can easily fill. By adding regional language and locally relevant content including articles or videos, they are easily able to entice smartphone users in comparison to larger news outlets.
The ongoing ban on Chinese apps in India has led to Indians all around the country calling for the adoption of Indian made apps. The Indian government’s push to develop local Indian industries has been noted by a great many Indian citizens. This combined with the ‘Make In India’ initiative means that it could not be a better time for these regional news apps to try and get a chunk in the news market.
The ‘Vocal for Local’ initiative by the government has given a huge organic push to the homegrown apps across various genres like education, entertainment, games, news, shopping, etc. Especially after the call of Atma Nirbharta by the Prime Minister, the Indian apps which had fewer downloads on the play store and app store have suddenly started seeing positive engagements.
With the cut-throat competition and the number of new opportunities popping up. Today apps are required to cater to a number of services. Consumers are looking for a one-stop-shop solution to all their demands. With regional apps having a better grip on tier 1 & tier 2, these apps are now even entering the job and employment sector. With more and more schemes to provide jobs to the people from these regions and government initiatives. Local job opportunities have arisen in a number of states based on the spoken language of that region, with jobs in Telugu offered in Telugu speaking regions of Telangana & similar jobs in Tamil in TamilNadu. With these apps entering this scene these jobs have become easily accessible to the youth of the region to easily apply for. Apps even provide job alerts and news updates on the latest trends and happenings. This is a golden opportunity for regional apps to bank on.
In conclusion, due to various reasons in India, regional news or hyperlocal news apps have been on a rapid rise in India. Of course, the falling prices of smartphones combined with the widespread access to cheaper internet data plans means more people will start to access internet services. This means as more people in tier 2 and tier 3 cities begin to go online, these regional news apps can begin to target them. In the end, these regional news apps are able to see such high growth because people in rural India would rather use an app that gave them news updates and content in their district instead of somewhere far off.