ALTBalaji was launched in 2017, as a subscription-based Video on demand (SVoD) platform.ALTBalaji is Balaji group’s foray into digital entertainment to create original, premium, and tailor-made web series for Indians across the globe. The web shows are available across genres viz drama, horror, comedy, romance, thriller, crime, mystery, etc. The content bank also includes kids’ content as well as urban regional shows in Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil& in international languages as well.”
What a dramatic change this Covid19 has brought to our lives, whether it is the business, jobs, we saw great upheavals; the world also saw a tectonic shift in the way we communicated. With theatres shut down, the OTT platforms saw a huge surge with original content be it drama or even films went for an OTT release. During this time though there was a lockdown and no shootings ALTBalajimanaged launch 20+ shows on various subjects.
Divya Dixit, SVP, Marketing & Revenue, ALTBalajiin an exclusive conversation with MediaNews4u talks about how they achieved this, partnerships, and marketing initiatives…
ALTBalaji is riding this OTT surge brilliantly, how have you managed to put out so many shows during this pandemic and lockdown?
The pandemic has affected the economy at large and the businesses, including our sector. However, we are grateful that we can continue work and launch a couple of new shows a month on month. ALTBalaji’s team has been on its toes preparing for all the possible scenarios. Since the only way to curb the spread of the deadly virus was to shut things down in the city of Mumbai, ALTBalaji knew there had to be a plan B in place. Taking the shoots out of the city to places where restrictions are not so stringent or concluding all pre-planned shoots indoors, following all the safety protocols as per the government, necessary to keep the cast and crew safe.
You have tied up with ZEE5. How does that partnership work for you? Is this partnership helping you to garner more subscribers in the urban market?
The long-standing association between ZEE and Balaji Telefilms has seen the two huge media houses collaborating for close to 25 years. With ZEE5’s depth and width of the consumers and ALTBalaji’s insights into concepts and audience analytics, this collaboration is based on leveraging mutual competencies. To offer our users exclusive content across both OTT platforms, ZEE5 and ALTBalaji today co-create original shows. This association is a collaborative process of co-understanding consumer insights and co-marketing to serve the viewer better, resulting in improved monetization for both streaming platforms. ALTBalaji and ZEE5 have established their content power globally. The synergy resulted in two of the largest home-grown video streaming platforms expanding their subscription base and internationally influencing binge-watching culture.
AltBalaji has experimented with some bold topics, what was the strategy behind this content?
The idea is to normalize conversations about these topics. So ALTBalaji, in an attempt to be more inclusive of people from all sections of society, decided to take up the cause and made it a mission to find ways to normalize conversations around all kinds of relationships and choices. Digitization in hinterland areas coupled with 5G bandwidth is the new Indian audience. Keeping the same in mind, we are aggressively focussing on the emerging youth from smaller cities and towns and brainstorming new narratives for our target audience aged 20-40 years. Having said that, ALT’s content line-up is geared for the Hindi Hinterlands, who comprise 59% of the viewership on the app. We also see a hike in female viewership in the digital ecosystem that is very motivating. It also allows us to explore parallel tracks of family viewing and individual viewing. We make sure that our subscriber churn rate goes down through a pool of immersive content and engagement strategies.
On the Marketing front what have been the innovations?
ALTBalaji is always known to handle situations to their advantage and hence in such situations when the audiences across the country have gone virtual and are now consuming content digitally, digital marketing buoyed by social media, influencer marketing, meme marketing, OBD calls, SMS, and email blasts, etc. can prove to be the safest bet for brands at this point. Especially for a digital-first platform like OTT, it promises to play a crucial role in the overall marketing mix, seeing 60% of the allotted marketing budget. ALTBalaji recently leveraged a 360-degrees approach for its recently launched ‘ Broken But Beautiful Season 3’ with a mix of influencers and engagement tactics to keep the buzz alive around the characters and themes while generating conversations for the upcoming season of the show. The marketing campaigns of our shows like The Married Woman, His Storyy, and Bicchoo Ka Khel turned into case studies for its numerous promotional strategies, marketing elements, and entertaining characters that highly influenced pop culture on social media.
Regional content is doing very well in the OTT genre. Any plans to diversify into regional space?
However, since the pandemic began, along with audiences from the metro cities, there have been increasing subscribers from the Hindi heartlands and other regions with different languages glued to our Hindi shows. ALTBalaji Originals are also available in Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia languages apart from the language, Hindi. Speaking on towns showing maximum growth, our recent data suggests Ranchi has picked up a tremendous pace in viewership with 192.01% growth in under a year, and Lucknow follows at a close second with 189.84% growth at the same time.
What are the other shows lined up for the year?
Apharan 2, The Test Case 2, Farrey, Cartel are a few of the many shows lined up for this year. ALTBalaji has not let the restrictions of the pandemic stop the flow of content for its subscribers on the platform to be entertained all year round. Our recent shows like Broken But Beautiful 3, Mai Hero Boll Raha Hu, His Storyy, and The Married Woman have been making headlines, and we are ecstatic with the response. Speaking on shows that gave us a surge in viewership, we had BicchookaKhel, Paurashpur&HellloJee.
What is ALTBalaji’s subscription base now?
The Company sold 4.7m subscriptions during the year and currently has an active subscriber base of over 2.4 mn. The Company continues to drive deeper audience engagement by creating memorable content that is targeted at mass India. The platform has over 84 shows and offers unmatched content diversity. For us at ALTBalaji, nearly 59% of our viewers are primarily Hindi speaking, and they belong to the smaller towns of the country. ALTBalaji became a go-to for the audience from the hinterlands during the lockdown due to its highly relatable content. While we saw a spike in numbers coming from Hindi-speaking markets including Lucknow, Indore, Ludhiana, Bhopal, Guwahati, Raipur, Mohali, Jalandhar, to name a few, we also observed an increase in consumption in Metros like Delhi. ALTBalaji’s relentless effort to make the content relatable to everyone has further increased its viewership in other regions previously untouched by OTT. We have seen a 100% Year-on-Year growth concerning the Hinterland markets.