Online television in India is its nascent stages, we don't have a Netflix or a Hulu. Then again, we don't have a show like Game of Thrones or Dexter either. The point being, neither do we have cable-competitive online streaming services nor we have shows that the Internet-savvy Indian would pirate. Movies on the other hand, is a different story. Reliance Entertainment has gone on the offensive against online piracy; they've gone overboard. Another story by itself, Reliance Entertainment got the Department of Telecom to direct Internet Service Providers in the country to block creative video sharing site Vimeo to be blocked.
Last week, Indian television saw the launch what is being considered as the biggest social changing television series—Satyamev Jayate. (It means truth only triumphs, it is also India's official motto.) The show is being hosted by Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan. The theme of the show is to highlight social issues that India as a society does not to talk about and keep under the rugs. Issues like child sex abuse, female foeticide have been discussed so far. The show brings these shows to light, discusses them, and asks for Indians to come together against these issues. The show host uses his star power to gather support and bring these issues out of the closet—which is amazing for a rather conservative society like India.
When the show first aired, the full episode was uploaded to YouTube, the link was shared by many on my Twitter and Facebook news feeds. I went on to the link only to be disappointed to know that the episode was region locked. The TV show is probably the first to share complete episode, advertisement free moments after telecast. A good step only to be undone by the region locked. A few days later, a friend of mine from Austin, Texas shared the link and knowing the region lock, I clicked the link and to my surprise a 720p HD version of the show was available to be streamed in the US. As it turns out, considering the social change the show can bring, the producers were broadcasting this show on the government backed public broadcasting channel—Doordarshan—at the same time as the show was being aired on the commercial channel Star Plus.
Perhaps this is the first true sign of Indian television realizing how the Internet can be viral, is accessible and amplifies reach. The show producers should be appreciated for choosing YouTube and not a self-owned website and streaming service for the show. Hopefully, Satyamev Jayate not only brings a social change for issues it talks about but a much needed digital change.