Ullu App was launched in 2018. In the span of less than 2 years, the platform boasts a total of more than 350 hours of Original content across formats and is touted to be one of the fastest-growing OTT platforms.
ULLU is a renowned and well-acclaimed brand in Digital entertainment platform (OTT) today. Applauded across geographical peripheries for creating original, premium and customised content for viewers, it has successfully captivated huge audiences across the globe in last few years. With uninterrupted cascade of entertainment and enchanting engagement, ULLU aspire and ushers viewers from all over the world by announcing release for 4 (four) of its web series -on Friday of every month.. It’s called “Happiest Day of the week”
In an exclusive chat, Vibhu Agarwal, Founder & CEO – ULLU talks on the app, the content and way forward for ULLU and the growth of the OTT genre in the near future.
Why the name ‘Ullu’ and what is the significance of the name?
We had done an extensive research before finalising on the name of the app. We had shortlisted a few English names but in our internal surveys and research, those names didn’t click with the masses and were not very easy to catch and remember. Our idea was to create an application that would not only appeal to the masses but would also be affordable to them. Back when we started about three and half years ago, there were not many affordable streaming platforms. We wanted to reach in to the homes of the masses with a name that is used on a daily basis.. ULLU which means owl stays up all night much like the OTT viewers who end up streaming season-after-season all night. It is also a widely used word across Indian households. Keeping all these factors in mind, when we stumbled upon the name “ULLU”, I knew it was it
What has been your growth trajectory since 2018?
Since 2018, our aim was to connect with the masses so we’ve carved our path in that direction. The mind-sets of the audience have evolved quite a lot since then. Back then, the digital audience were very hesitant to make online transactions. So I had thought that I would offer the streaming service at a price which doesn’t pinch the pockets of the masses and in this way we could reach out to them. We started at providing an annual subscription of unlimited streaming and downloading all content at rate of Rs. 36. And once that was done, the word-of-mouth did its magic and helped us reach to a larger audience in an organic fashion.
We created content pieces which are available exclusively on our platform. It was derived from extensive research that a mind of a viewer is constantly distracted and worked up in the day-to-day rut. As we decided on tapping on the masses with affordable, easy-to-understand short format series. I decided-on offering small capsules of entertainment which didn’t require too much of their intellect and could viewed anytime of the day.
All the series that were available then were mostly English and were extremely extensive and immersive with each episode lengthening upto of fifty to sixty minutes. That is when we finalised upon localising the content and having short format of content from short films to episodes with the duration of ten to fifteen minutes,this worked very well with the audience and in no time we had become the fastest growing OTT platform.
What is the content on the App and how do you conceptualise and strategize on what is to go on the App?
The Indian audience is constantly evolving and so are their preferences. They are now ready to be challenged factually and intellectually with every piece of content. Breaking away from the defined barriers of genres is what sells. However, from my experience with ULLU, there are few genres that never fail to intrigue the audiences. The investigative world of espionage captivates the new audience. Secrets, lies, conspiracies and undercover plots abound challenges them. We are always on the lookout for new and fresh content. We are a content-driven application and are always welcoming towards experimenting with new subjects and genres.
What further draws the attention is if a real life incident is presented and dramatised with an intriguing plot developed around it. So spy thrillers, murder mysteries, high octane espionages crime thrillers, thrillers inspired by real life events is what the IndianStories inspired by real life incidents have always piqued the interest of the audiences. Mostly because, they already have a backdrop set in their minds and it’s easier to build on that. Also, more often they haven’t followed the entire story so watching the series gives them an in-depth knowledge about how the incidents unfolded.Apart from this, we have also never shied away from putting intimate scenes if the script requires and after all digital is the space to be edgy.
What is your TG and what is the kind of growth have you seen during this lockdown?
The CEO of every company is constantly aiming to reach out to a large audience. We started with the aim of targeting both urban and rural masses. The pandemic has got many viewers to make the big digital shift from television. They have not only shifted but also retained in all the coming months. The downloads and subscriptions for all OTT platforms have shot up and so have ULLU’s. It has also given us an opportunity to understand the demand of the public and strategise accordingly, also course correct if need be. Interestingly, we have seen a jump of over 220 per cent in the consumption of our original content in the first month of the lockdown. However, the upward has stabilised now but is still at a much higher ratio than what it was before the pandemic.
You have now ventured into content production, will it be solely for ULLU or for other platforms also?
We only produce content for our own platform and we plan to continue to do so. We have no plans of creating content for other platforms. However, before the pandemic hit, we did have plans to give theatrical releases to our films before releasing them online. But the pandemic has moved things around so a theatrical release to our film is still a distant plan.
Our revenue model currently is solely subscription-based. We have no advertisements based revenue. Our cheapest subscription is that of Rs.36 for five days where the audience can browse and sample the content for this minimal price before they buy an annual subscription. After five days if a viewer wants to extend his subscription they can easily do so at Rs. 99 for three months, Rs.144 for six months and an annual package for Rs.199. There are no boundaries and filtration within this package. Any viewer can stream and download unlimited content from ULLU’s app, once they subscribe to it.
You also operate in Australia, how did this come about?
We also operate in Brisbane, Australia. We had floated the idea with global investors and it was very well received and this how ULLU’s operations in Australia came about. It’s an international joint venture which launched a company with the same name ULLU Digital PTY Ltd. As a joint collaboration, they handle global operations. They have invested in the idea and it has been it has been fruitful collaboration and we look forward to expanding newer avenues together.
Other than the mobile have you tied up with any DTH platform or TV manufactures.
We are working very closely with many DTH players. We are releasing censored content with various DTH platforms. Apart from DTH, we are working with Android TV with great speed. Even during the lockdown we have seen a steady shift of people switching from DTH to OTT. We have also tied up with various tele communications. So in the coming months, we will see ULLU in Android TV, various telecom services and DTH platforms.
Way ahead for ULLU?
We will soon be launching ULLU 2.0 which is going to be dedicated to premium content with higher budgets and bigger artists. We have signed deals with mainstream filmmakers and actors to level up the quality of content. Also, since the theatres are not functioning because of the lockdown, many filmmakers have approached us for releasing their content online as theatrical releases have come to a stall. We have also launched Ullu Music and will soon be foraying in to merchandise. We have a host of exciting plans for the coming years and we look forward to execute them one after the other.
Where do you see yourself and the OTT genre in the next 3 years?
The last three years have been incredible for ULLU and the overall digital space. Content has been revolutionised to an extent where no platform and no star power comes above a good script. Fortunately, we have experienced a stable upward growth in the last years and are completely driven to continuing the growth. I believe ULLU and the entire OTT industry have immense potential and have a huge scope and many unexplored territories to conquer. We look forward to explore the endless possibilities and unlimited opportunities this space has to offer and we want to up the game of storytelling in multi-folds in the coming years.
Edited and Additional Inputs – Kalpana Ravi.