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Dish TV's Watcho may explore turning into a subscription-based service in the long run

For Watcho, Dish TV is working closely with partners and several independent creators to produce content that is relatable to young Indians not just from urban centres but across Tier II, Tier III and rural markets. The platform is developing a web series for the Southern market and ramping up efforts to grow the library across several other key regional languages. The company has pumped in Rs 50 crores towards strengthening product technology

As DishTV became the only DTH platform in India to launch an OTT platform 'Watcho' with original content, it is initially focusing on tapping into their existing audience base of 23.7 million subscribers.

With the launch of Watcho, DishTV has invested around Rs 35-40 crores behind technology and content and is planning to further invest in their OTT offering. The provider has already rolled out around 20 original shows and is aiming to widen the reach of its content portfolio through several partnerships. Watcho gives its subscribers access to exclusive content- fiction, non-fiction, and aims to refresh the offering with new content every month.

Anil Dua

Anil Dua, Executive Director and Group CEO, Dish TV India, said, “Watcho has an existing library of 60 to 70+ hours of original content across genres and we are committed to continued investments in original content. We are working closely with partners and many independent creators to produce great content, very relatable to young Indians not just from urban centres but across Tier II, III and rural markets. We are already working on a web series in the southern market and ramping up our efforts to grow the library across several other key regional languages.”

Dua stated that they are currently working on a robust roadmap of content and integration, which will provide much more for their consumers in the coming months. The OTT platform is currently available for free to the subscribers and works on the ad-revenue model. “We do have an advertisement-supported ecosystem, but we are trying to ensure that it is non-intrusive for our users. We will start with the ad-revenue model and gradually include subscription,” he added.

In order to attract viewers, several OTT platforms have partnered with larger Indian content studios, production houses and new talent.  However, with Watcho, Dish TV is not doing any exclusive tie-ups, but is open to investing in great stories, which fit their strategy and resonate well with their target audience. “Watcho’s product roadmap includes enabling talent discovery as a key feature and aims at digital storytelling/auditions to discover and nurture talented individuals across the country. This will enable an engaging experience for our subscribers and not only one-way delivery of content,” Dua said.

Although Dish TV is the first DTH player with its own OTT platform, they are one of the late entrants into the digital market. Currently, the market has around 32-35 OTT platforms and will soon see the entry of the giants Disney+ and Apple TV.

When asked how Dish TV is planning to differentiate Watcho from the existing competition?  Dua replied that with Watcho they don’t aim to compete with long format shows or the movies space but want to be a truly bite-sized premium content destination.

“Watcho focuses on mobile first, short and snackable format content like fiction web series ranging from 3-10 episodes, with a duration of 15-16 minutes per episode. Users generally find this format of content on YouTube or scattered all over the place, discoverability of good short stories is a big challenge for users. Watcho differentiates by focusing on this wide gap in the ecosystem. The same also resonates well with a large community of independent storytellers and creators who are unable to display their talent due to lack of platform or monetization capabilities across social media,” he said.

Grabbing customer attention is one of the main challenges for the DTH provider as there are several choices in the OTT space. Dua stated that it is important to understand where, when and with what one wants to capture the audience attention, hence Watcho is focused on short and bite-sized content, which is quite apt for mobile viewing.

Apart from attracting consumers, Dua also feels that there are different challenges with the digital audience as their consumption behaviour is very different. He said, “The OTT market is continuously evolving and the consumption is growing on TV and mobile. The good part is that a digital content platform allows you to understand and engage with your audiences like never before. Hence, with Watcho we have a lot of focus on data-driven experience creation, content strategy, future product roadmap, personalised experience and two-way communication.”

While there are challenges, being the first entrant from the DTH space gives Dish TV certain advantages such as increasing the value of their existing base. “Dish TV is the only DTH platform in India to set up an original content library and not just be an aggregator of content. This is a clear advantage as it gives much more reasons and adds a lot of value for our existing base to experience Dish TV offerings. This is just the start of our journey with Watcho, but we do see many synergies with our core business- increased stickiness, bundling opportunities, and multi-screen experience to name a few amongst others,” Dua commented.

When it comes to marketing and promoting Watcho, DishTV has undertaken a threefold approach with the main focus on digital and owned media to promote Watcho. They are also focusing on the existing base with owned media and existing touch points, they are creating digital campaigns around content IPs and are also planning to get into content partnerships.

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