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Ditto TV aims to double revenues this fiscal; plans more original shows

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MUMBAI: It’s gotten late off the blocks but it sure is looking to sprint ahead and fast. We are talking about the Zee network’s digital over the top (OTT) offering Ditto TV.

Zee Digital Convergence (ZDC) Chief Executive Officer Debashish Ghosh told PTI over the weekend  that his goal is to double his company’s revenue from around Rs 30 crore to Rs 60 crore this year, with almost 95 per cent of it coming courtesy subscription.

With 1.8 million subscribers on a monthly basis and almost 60 percent of them being repeat viewers, Ditto TV is present in 167 countries. Most of its consumption is however happening in India. With the exception of Star and Sun group channels, Ditto TV offers 156 channels across 13 languages. Ghosh further told PTI that almost 30 per cent of Ditto TV subscribers consume live TV.

ZDC  has invested around $5 million in Ditto TV over the past three to four years, Ghosh disclosed. That is slated to go up in the coming months as it starts pumping in money into original content. The first of these is a music based show called Life is Music; other programmes are being planned in-house as well as with outside producers.

Clearly, the OTT original content space is seeing a lot of action.

Netflix is slated to launch in India by mid next year and invest top dollar in cutting edge content. Star India’s Hotstar already has an average of 20 million users every month. It has paid a fat commissioning fee to stand up comedy group All India Bakchod to produce shows running over 20 episodes. Then it has been premiering some of its big-ticket Bollywood movies and TV shows on Hotstar.

Entertainment major Eros International recently announced that the registered user base of its OTT service Eros Now has grown to 30 million as of 30 September.  It has ordered six new original shows which are slated to debut soon and feature big name stars.

MSM Media’s Sony Liv, on the other hand, notches up an average of 5-7 million monthly users, and is also getting into OTT content.  It is experimenting with a fiction show titled  Love Bytes. Then the Viacom18 group is also pacing on the sidelines, gearing up to launch its own OTT service under the leadership of Gaurav Gandhi.

Ghosh, while speaking at IDOS (organized by Indiantelevision.com and MPA in September) said that the hyper activity is good for the OTT sector as a whole.

He further  told PTI, that India is expected to have 500 million Internet users by 2017, out of which 382 million would be smartphone users, 70 per cent whom would be 3G/4G customers. And that is what is exciting the Zee TV network to further invest in Ditto TV.  Add to that the prediction that almost 60 per cent of India’s population is going to below 40 by 2020, and that both wired and wireless broadband infrastructure will be in place. That’s the positive side.

“But the fact is that the OTT players will find the going challenging,” says a media observer. “At least until the numbers really scale up and bandwidth constraints and costs fall. Indian consumers are chary of paying for content, apart from cricket. Hence, Hotstar has taken the AVOD route (advertising video on demand). But advertisers and agencies have been reluctant to buy into the medium; at least at prices Star has envisaged. Eros Now has announced a multiple revenue stream offering which includes advertising, transactional (TVOD) and subscription video on demand (SVOD), with differential pricing for Indian and international consumers. Ditto TV is primarily SVOD and its growth has been limited so far. Each of them has to find a robust and sustainable revenue model.”

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