This series is billed as the first attempt at a docudrama on a cricket match by an OTT platform. Who would be your TG for this?
The series doesn’t feel like a docudrama. It looks and feels so real. The docu has some beautiful nuggets and they (the Indian team) had to forget what had happened (in the first test) and go into the second test, which was easier said than done. Ajinkya (Rahane) is seen saying in the trailer, that our series starts now after the first test.
This is not a story that will appeal only to people who like cricket. There are some very good series and movies made on sport. Most of us may not follow a particular sport but still enjoy watching (the shows on them). For example, The Queen’s Gambit — even if you don’t follow or play chess you still watched the series because it was interesting. This docudrama will appeal to Indians and to the global audience because it is genuinely the greatest fightback ever. It is an underdog story. This was not a world cup or a tournament; this was a test match series in Australia.
Neeraj (Pandey), was very keen that this story had to be told. It is an insane story, it parallels the 1983 win except this was a test series. The series will be available in Tamil, Kannada, Bangla and a few more languages as this content is universal and would appeal to all. This is genuinely without any tall claims an attempt to tell a really true story that all of us believe in and one that a larger set of people who would love to know.
It will be interesting to see how this is received, because there are so many such events that happen, not necessarily in the field of sports, but inspirational stories of teams, individuals etc. which can be told differently. You either recreate the whole thing or you get into a documentary space or a docudrama space, or make a film. What format we use will change with the kind of event it is.
You have done a lot of sporting events recently. How were those received by audiences?
Over the last eight to nine months, we started with the European Football Leagues, Laliga and other sports. It was a new chapter for us; it brings a new set of audiences who are not necessarily on the platform otherwise. Then there is another set of audiences who are already there and consume sports as well. Each sport has its different kinds of fandom. The passion that comes through for the sports fan is very hard to find for any other content.
We all know what we went through as general consumers and as Indians when we won the Thomas Cup. It was a surreal feeling that it was happening. One didn’t have to be a lover of badminton, or any other racquet sport, or understand badminton. But all of us felt the win and the pride. That is what we are looking for engaged fans and we feel that this is a great opportunity to tell such stories.
VOOT Select launched in March 2020. How has the freemium strategy worked?
It has worked wonderfully for us. One of our biggest advantages is we have a set of audiences who love VOOT as a platform and then we present them with an unique opportunity to upgrade and become members. We are seeing a phenomenal uptake on our existing base and you also have a lot of people who were not on the platform before. The kind of content that we are now putting out is not something we had put out in the past. Every content brings in different audiences. The business is doing extremely well, much better than what we had forecasted when we launched.
Largely it has also been aided by the pandemic, which generated a lot of sampling for all of us and we happened to be fortunate that we had a good bulk of content when we launched.
The organisation started off as broadcast, we then had VOOT in place. Some of the pressures that other platforms may have — whose sole business is subscription business — were not on us. We were told to run a sensible business and we have used the last two years to build, whether it was content learning from an audience point of view or any other kind of learning. That has stood us in good stead and we have been able to drive business at much lower cost, both content cost and acquisition cost, and keep our bottom line in check and grow top lines as well.