ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Imagining “Neomobile” Audiences of “Bharat”


Mukherjee Rahul - University of Pennsylvania, Cinema and Media Studies, Philadelphia, United States


49 – Public Knowledge: Audiences in South Asian Media and Screen Studies


 With mobile phones becoming the dominant screens where more people in India are watching streaming content, producers and distributors of both long-form (OTT/SVoD players like SonyLiv and Hotstar) and short-form video content (InstaReels and Moj) increasingly sketch user-scenarios of making their content for the newly mobile or “neomobile” audiences. How are these so-called “neomobile” audiences imagined by the producers and distributors, what kinds of data are being collected about them, and what taste cultures do they associate with such audiences are the questions I examine in this paper based on interviews with video creators and distributors. Streaming video makers mentioned that they are less interested in affluent “South Mumbai” audiences because they now care about audiences in “Bharat” pointing to an audience segmentation where neomobile audiences often are seen to be arising from provincial regions comprising of tier-2 and tier-3 towns who are not wielding iPhones but possessing Redmi phones, and who are not following international Korean BTS boy bands but relishing “vernacular” Bhojpuri music of Khesari Lal. The neomobile audiences of Bharat today, some of whom are micro-influencers and content creators themselves, operate amidst the convergence of film and digital media, and overlapping performances of political trolls, influencer marketers and film celebrity fans, incessantly moving across offline and online public spaces (Srinivas, 2021; Punathambekar 2007).