In India, what do teens and young adults want when it comes to TV shows and movies?

We covered the topic of content preferences in a survey of 25,000 Indians aged 15 to 25, spanning over 400 towns and more than 100 campuses. (Note: this project was completed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.) This research revealed that young Indians are drawn to content that is authentic, complex, and makes them think. Silly and mindless content no longer works. They want relatable stories of personal struggle to help them figure out their lives.

Here are some key findings:

Young Indians have a growing interest in stories that keep it real. Compared with 2016, young Indians are 68% more likely to prefer real stories (which can be up-market or not), 23% more likely to say they like stories where people struggle to win, and 22% more likely to prefer stories based on real-life people. They are less interested in celebrities and stories about luxuries and the good life.

They enjoy complex, thought-provoking storylines and characters. Eight in 10 young Indians say they enjoy shows filled with plot twists and suspense, and the same proportion enjoys unique storylines that give them something to think about later. Just 1 in 5 prefer shows that are simple, linear, and uncomplicated. They also prefer to see characters with good and bad sides who grow as humans (61%) over stories with clear-cut good and bad characters, where the good character always wins (39%).

They want to be exposed to new ideas. The vast majority prefer content that makes them see the world differently (87%) over shows that are silly and mindless (13%). They also would rather see shows in which characters cope with tricky situations (71%) over those that just help them pass the time (29%).

They gravitate toward lighter themes more than darker ones. Young Indians enjoy light-hearted entertainment that makes them laugh (70%) more than sensational and shocking content (30%). They prefer sweet, romantic stories with happy endings (62%) more than stories of crime and struggle (38%). And they’re more likely to enjoy plotlines that are happy and positive (53%) more than dark and gory (47%).

Music and dance – especially music – are welcome. Most young Indians enjoy stories with music and dance (65%), while 35% think music and dance break up the narrative. If they had to choose, music wins – 59% prefer music-based shows and 41% enjoy dance-based content.

Comedy is their favorite genre. In movies and shows, the most popular genre is comedy. In movies, the next most popular are action, romance, and fantasy. In shows, romance, family, and fantasy follow comedy in popularity.