After its launch in India in partnership with Tata Sky, ShortsTV, the world’s only TV channel dedicated to short movies, is looking to expand its reach by the end of the year by tying up with other operators as well.
Ever since its launch in November 2018, ShortsTV, which is available in India on Tata Sky at Rs 75 per month, has claimed that it has attracted over 50,000 subscribers.
Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive, ShortsTV, said they were in talks with major operators and towards the end of 2019, they were looking at take the platform to more homes with more operators. It is also in talks with telecom operators in India but no deals have been signed yet.
Globally, ShortsTV has a revenue model that depends on satellite TV and cable operators. In America, the platform is available on satellite TV and on different cable systems. In Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, it is available in all the cable TV networks. The platform is also available in Latin America on DirectTV.
Pilcher said, “Our business model is generally that of standard cable and satellite television network that is paid by the operator. In India, we are looking at all types of deals from subscription sales to deals directly with the operators.”
But when it comes to advertising revenue, Pilcher says he is keen on working with branded content and doesn’t want to distract the audience by posting ads and straplines. “One of the things that we loved of ShortsTV is that it is presented in an uncluttered ad-free environment. We do work closely with some sponsors, like we just launched a show with Royal Stag but with that we have a branded block and we are not carrying Royal Stag ads. We have created a branded block and we are airing their films and the interviews of the people who created those films. So, it is a very special way to bring the brand into the process. It is what we want our audience to watch; we don’t want them to watch advertising but to enjoy movies.”
Shorts TV plans to release around 2000 premium titles. Recently, the platform, in association with cinema exhibitor PVR Cinemas, showcased Oscar-nominated short films of 2019. The films were screened in movie theatres in 12 to 13 cities. Following the positive response, the platform is planning to bring in more such films for the Indian audience. They have associated with Oscars, Cannes, Sundance Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. They are also working with Claremont film festival and in talks with Mami Film festival to bring in the best films.
“It is a great way to get started and we are very excited about how the films are played and how the audience responds. There are very high-quality films and it is totally a brand new way of going to cinema and watch world-class films. So, we are very proud to bring them and are proud of the response that we are getting,” the Chief Executive said.
Apart from the titles showcased during film festivals, ShortsTV is also focusing on branded content. They recently launched Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films, which not only features celebrated films but also showcases interviews with filmmakers from their catalogue. This will be the first time that the entire catalogue will be shown.
The platform is focusing on more such films and is in talks with several content creators. When asked what factors they consider while collaborating with the brands, Pilcher said, “We work closely with brands that have the same respect for films and making great movies. So we are definitely working alongside brands that have the same sensibility and working on bringing audiences. Often, they have big audiences as they have good reach. They understand what the film culture is about. But we are not just making silly shorts. We have great brands that are associated with the Academy of Motion Pictures and we released Oscar-nominated movies. Our focus is on creators and bringing highest quality film to our Indian audiences.”
Pilcher said they plan to feature more than 600 films that are produced in India, feature Indian star cast and is made by Indian directors. The Chief Executive feels the Indian market is undergoing a huge change with an increase in consumption of content on smartphones.
“Indian audiences love their content and now they are also using phones to watch films and the more they watch, the shorter duration they prefer. That is the promise for us. India is changing rapidly and Indians are skipping TV and consuming content on smartphones. The other interesting thing for us with Tata Sky as a partner is to see how effective their digital offering is for their subscribers. So we are getting a presence on their digital as well as TV platforms,” he said.
When it comes to consumption, the platform has seen a demand for shorts that feature popular celebrities, award films and horror. Shows with Hindi local stories, which highlight new Indian shorts and new directors, have also received a good response from the audience.