On India’s male-dominated web, women are flocking to two apps for their daily soaps

Still watching TV.
Still watching TV.
Image: AP Photo/M.Lakshman
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Women make for less than 30% of India’s internet population. However, there are two apps where they are making their presence felt, thanks to daily soaps.

Significantly more females said they used over-the-top (OTT) platforms Voot and Zee5 than their male counterparts, according to an in-app survey conducted by market research firm Unomer between May 01 and May 25 this year. The company reaches more than six million phones across India.

Voot, owned by Viacom18, and Zee5 are both part of networks that run Hindi entertainment channels on TV.

“You can get all the serials and TV shows which are women-centric” on these platforms that people “mainly use to catch up on shows or view old episodes,” Vinay Bapna, founder and CEO of Unomer, told Quartz. Although they are both getting into original content creation, it’s yet to yield results.

Neither company responded to Quartz’s requests for comment.

More men use popular OTT platforms HotStar, JioTV, and MX Player. For the first two, live cricket is a big pull. MX Player’s popularity, though, has less to do with content and more with India’s internet usage trends.

Four in 10 men use smartphones in the country compared to just over two in ten of women. A lack of literacy is still a huge barrier for women trying to come online.

MX Player may have begun producing its own content only this February, but has been a “video player” for years. “Originally, their base was people who downloaded videos and played them in the standard player. It was typically a male user that played with the format,” said Bapna. “Their audience isn’t the TV-watching audience. It’s the generation that’s savvy with smartphone, apps, and so on. That tends to be more male.”