More Indian men than women favour censorship of content on video streaming platforms

Content police.
Content police.
Image: REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade
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A majority of Indians believe that over-the-top (OTT) platforms need their wings clipped.

Nine in 10 people in the country feel some form of censorship is required on platforms such as Voot, Netflix, and Hotstar. Over half of them, vouch for censorship to curb what they see as “unsuitable content” for public viewing, according to a new study by YouGov, a UK-based online market research firm.

Men are more keen on regulation than women.

Age also seems to be a factor as 66% of GenX participants responded in favour of censorship, against 35% for GenZ.

The data, collected from 1,005 participants between Oct. 22 and Oct. 28, exemplifies both the popularity of OTT platforms in India and conservative Indians’ discomfiture with seemingly risqué content.

The research is also pertinent given the Narendra Modi government’s plan to regulate and censor digital content. Popular shows such as Sacred Games and Leila on Netflix have faced backlash from some right-wing groups, who claim the shows depict the country and its citizens in poor light. The majority of Indians seem to echo this sentiment.

Then what?

Those who advocate some form of censorship are also uncertain of what it will do to the OTT universe in India. Will it lead to more illegal downloads? Would there be a decline in the quality of content?

A recent report by KPMG and OTT platform EROS Now projected that India would have nearly 500 million online video subscribers by 2023, second only to China. This makes India a significant market for new entrants and seasoned players, with even food startups like Zomato entering the video scenario. A censorship regulation could seriously upset the applecart.