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Agrahyah Technologies has announced the launch of aawaz.com, an audio-on-demand platform in vernacular languages. With aawaz, people can listen to podcasts, chat shows, interviews, and also read articles and features.

aawaz.com is currently available in Hindi, and as both website and Android app.

The platform says unlike UGC-driven platforms and apps, where there can be questionable material or polarising content, aawaz is completely living room friendly, suitable for all ages. The entire content is brand safe and has no profanity, no partisan and no political bias.

According to the press note sent by the brand, aawaz.com is built with cutting-edge technology stack and hosted on cloud for a faster and seamless streaming experience for the end user. Aawaz.com will have ML (machine learning) and AI (artificial capabilities)-based capabilities to recommend and personalise content based on user’s preferences.

With aawaz.com or the app, people can listen to over 150 hours of audio content that is scripted, recorded and presented as podcasts and shows. Aawaz also packs in over one thousand text articles.

Both audio and text content are spread across multiple genres, including entertainment, lifestyle, health, wellbeing, fiction, literature, devotional, comedy and humour, celebrities, career, relationships and more.

While Voice is gaining widespread acceptance, India’s on-demand audio or podcast as an industry is very nascent but promising. Aawaz.com aims to be an early mover and learn and grow with a new generation of audience that is increasingly consuming passive content such as podcasts while performing another task like driving or cooking.

Although negligible in comparison to US, where podcasting was a $314 million industry in 2017, or China, where the market size is an estimated $7.3 billion as of 2018, podcasting in India is gaining steady popularity and looks promising. Select segments like the ‘Mann ki Baat’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and access to international podcasts due to iPhone’s pre-installed apps add to the growth of podcasting in India.

However, the fact that most content, both digital and voice, remains largely skewed towards English, is a major factor contributing to the unpopularity of podcasts. English today dominates 51% content on the web worldwide, followed by Russian at a distant second at 7% while Hindi stands at a negligible 0.5%. For a country that has over 400 million Hindi-speaking audiences, that’s an abysmally low quantum of content, let alone other 21 official languages of India. Products built by Agrahyah are aimed to cement the gap.

Factors driving growth of podcast industry in India:

  • Increased smartphone and internet penetration in India
  • Growing focus on vernacular language content
  • Availability of preinstalled podcast apps with devices like iPhone
  • Ripple effect of the growing podcast market in US, China and South Korea

What this means for brands

As per a recent study, internet surfers in vernacular languages have grown from 42 million in 2011 to 234 million in 2016, highlighting that nearly 70% of Indians consider local language content more engaging than English. By 2021, it is estimated that over 201 million Hindi users, which form 38% of the Indian internet user base, are expected to be online and nearly 90% of them are more likely to respond to a digital advertisement in their local language as compared to English ads.

In line with the above, most brands are waking up to the significance of engaging with consumers in their local language. However, their marketing and brand campaigns are limited to social media and mobile advertising. With a rapid rise in regional language internet users, which are poised to drive the next phase of internet adoption in India, emerging platforms like voice are leading the conversation through a plethora of innovative content formats. Podcasts are touted as the next big opportunity for brands, after the voice assistants, which are currently drawing great attention from brands and marketers, with an objective to create more stickiness for the product/offering.

Speaking about the launch, Sreeraman Thiagarajan, Co-Founder of Agrahyah Technologies, said, “We are delighted to be producing content ground up to make it contextually relevant and useful for people of India. Aawaz.com is our way of making the web useful to people by providing high-quality and genuine content created by subject matter experts. While we are striving to make content useful, it is also entertaining.”

Rushabh Vasa, Co-Founder of Agrahyah Technologies, added, “While English podcasts as an industry is in nascent stage in India, vernacular-based audio content consumption has always been high in India, albeit in a passive format. Just observe a salon next door, or an average commuter on a public transport, you’ll see them listening and working or earphones plugged while their hands and eyes are busy doing something else.”