The Covid lockdown has resulted in the growth of different platforms across categories, including OTT. According to reports, there has been an 80% surge in the subscriber base of OTT players and for ALTBalaji, direct subscription revenue grew by over 100% in FY20.
In an interaction with BestMediaInfo.com, Nachiket Pantvaidya, CEO, ALTBalaji and Group COO, Balaji Telefilms, said they are aiming to break even in 2020-2021. He explained that their focus would be on dominating the Hindi market and gradually shifting towards regional. “There is a huge potential for OTT players in Tier 2, 3, and 4 markets, which cannot be ignored. If you look at the geography and demography of the country, 70% content consumed is Hindi. This year we will first focus on ensuring we dominate the Hindi space and then will gradually move towards other regional markets in the coming years,” he said.
Pantvaidya said most of ALTBalaji customers are from tier two and three cities and they would continue to entertain the ‘Bharat’ audience. “56% of our consumers are from non-metro and tier 2/tier 3 towns and cities, and this rise in viewership over the past few months is only going to see us work towards entertaining the Bharat audience with new offerings in the months to come. We always believed in creating diverse shows with stories that are unique, untold and undiscovered,” he said.
Pantvaidya said their prices helped them penetrate deep into the country and reach the masses. Speaking about the challenges faced by OTT players, he said it gets difficult to retain subscribers in a price-sensitive market. “As India is a price-sensitive market, consumers often do not want to pay for digital content. Converting these first-time samplers into avid subscribers of premium content on the platform is one of the challenges many SVOD OTT players face today. But this will slowly change as the consumer mindset changes as this is the only sustainable business model. Technically India is still evolving and experimenting with various UIs and consumer convenience points such as voice search, one-swipe pay, vertical UI, etc,” he said.
Stating that the OTT business is an amalgamation of original content, consumer retention and acquisition, he said they will be aggressive with their marketing while cutting down costs. “Innovation is the main pillar at ALTBalaji, and we encourage it across all our marketing departments, be it our social, digital, PR, creative teams or for that matter even the analytics team that is forever looking at marketing business data and solutions. Each of our verticals displays a high sense of aggression at work as they understand the importance of bringing in innovation in the ideation while cutting down on the cost,” Pantvaidya said.
Asked about the regulation of OTT platforms, he said the choice lies with the viewer and ALTBalaji always supported self-censorship. “We have always supported self-censorship and have ensured that our content is behind a paywall with disclaimers for the age and consumption, which means the final choice lies with the viewer.”
He said partnering with payment apps, including Amazon Pay and Paytm, has made content affordable and helped them reach a wider audience. “We are always open to partnerships across verticals if they support the intended business model,” he added.