Mumbai: The inaugural edition of Digital Reinvent 2020 had a stellar speaker line up starting from a keynote from the maestro Tarun Katial, after which had a panel discussion of heavy weights from the industry.
Moderated by veteran and Founder of House of Cheer, Raj Nayak, the panel titled, ‘OTT Visionaries – Reinvent 2020 comprised of the true Visionaries of the OTT industry with the presence of some digital leaders such as Karan Bedi, Vishnu Mohta, Nachiket Pantvaidya, Kranti Gada and Gourav Rakshit.
AltBalaji CEO, Nachiket Pantvaidya had to answer the first of the many interesting questions asked by Raj Nayak. He asked, “is AltBalaji all about Gandi Baat or there is much more to AltBalaji?”
To which, Pantvaidya replied by saying, “let me start off with the philosophy that at Balaji Telefilms, we make TV content for family audiences, and we make digital content for individual viewing. None of our digital shows can go on TV.”
“We believe India is a mobile first country, the shows that we make and curate are for digital and we want to ensure that our shows on Alt Balaji are meant for individual viewing and not for family viewing.”
Nayak asked Kranti Gada, COO, Shemaroo Entertainment, if she feels that 2020 would be a watershed year for the OTT players considering the amount of on-going disruption happening?
Gada believed that no particular year can be a watershed year. She said, “Now, one can say that 2016 was a watershed year with the launch of Netflix in India, or the year when the digital rights for IPL were sold, so there are a lot of things that happen and no one thing can define the a watershed year, simply because there are too many stakeholders involved in the current scenario. I think it’s evolving and it will keep evolving.”
“At Shemaroo what we see is that we’re actually a mass entertainment player and we are trying to cater to the next 300 billion, the next 250 or 300 million and a lot of them are already digital viewers which we already are trying to cater them and we believe in being available wherever they are.”
Kranti also mentioned about the content that Shemaroo offers, she said, “Over the years we have built an extremely strong content bank across Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi and many others
We have created alternative genres and I repeat loyal viewership and so all of this is catering the next 50 million or 300 million people and now we are not a bottomless pit and we make a viable business out of doing this fair.”
Nayak asked, Gourav Rakshit, COO – Viacom18 Digital Ventures about how OTT players said that they wanted exclusive content, where has that thought process taken them?
Rakshit said, “I think typically the way we operate is that we distribute free content widely and the subscription based content is typically behind the pay wall. The philosophy is more important, which is around the fact that good content shouldn’t be dramatically restricted in terms of its audience as it will not be fulfilling for content creators and for all the people that participate in that journey.”
Talking about their strategy MX player’s CEO Karan Bedi said, “We are slowly growing and everyone knows how to get on to MX Player and they know what they exactly want. If given the size and scale that we have, we are growing on 200 million monthly actives in India across all our platforms.”
Speaking about the user base of MX Player, Bedi said, “We have got anybody who has got a smartphone or a data connection and wants to watch entertainment. In that sense, we are doing TV content, originals and movies. The Holy Grail is something like Queen which got us critical acclaims, sponsors, advertisers and numbers, but obviously I would be lying if I say that every show can be like that, those are tentpoles that work from time to time and content is a business like that, but all the other shows do add a lot of value.”
About Hoichoi, Vishu Mohta said “we are a subscription business from day one and we are focused on one language that is Bengali. We have enough people to speak this language to keep us busy for a very long time in India and Bangladesh.”
“As we are niche and focused only on one language, we do everything in that entertainment package, per se and as we are laser focused on one language to start with.”