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ALT Balaji to go live on 21 Feb, commercial launch on 15 April

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MUMBAI: For Ekta Kapoor, Sameer Nair, and the entire team at Balaji Telefilms D-Day has finally dawned. 21 Februrary 2017 is the day when its latest diversification ALT Balaji which has been talked about for so long will finally launch.

Speaking to ET Now, CEO Sameer Nair said that the video on demand (VOD) platform will be rolled out to consumers as a free service to sample and snack in the first phase.

“It’s going  tech live on 21 February,” he said. “We are testing the technology for the first month. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. We will be testing whether it plays out well. You put it off, you put it on. Does it work well? Are all the features performing as well as expected?”

He added that post this testing phase, the commercial launch has currently been slated for 15 April .

Pricing he revealed has been kept super disruptive. “Netflix has a tag of Rs 600 a month, ours will be at Rs 60,” he explained.

Nair pointed out that ALT Balaji is aiming for the 25 million cable and satellite audiences (of the total of 165 million Indian C&S homes) which are lapsing from Naagin kind of content.

“There is this giant world which between Narcos (on Netflix) and Naagin which is what we are going after,” he said. “The premium subscription homes. These 25 million folks are spending between Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 a month for telephony, television and entertainment. They will be spending Rs 600 more a month more in the next five years. That’s a $3 billion market. “

According to Nair, Bollywood has been pushing the envelope with its eye on this audience. “It produces a Sultan and a Dangal and it also makes  a Pink, Kapoor & Sons and also makes Neerja. Television has not done that, and  it remains currently in the giant mass base. And therein lies the opportunity.”

At commercial launch, ALT will showcase about 60-80 hours of content; the target is to finally have 300 hours for users to binge on.  He revealed that Balaji Telefims  will be making 30 per cent of those shows for ALT Balaji  while the remainder have been farmed out to outside producers. Each series will be between 12-15 episodes, with each episode being between 12-15 -18 to 22 minutes long.

“Users will get to watch the first two to five episodes free,” he highlighted. “And if you like what you have seen, you will have to pay us a little bit of money. That is Rs 60 a month.”

Nair also revealed that the ALT  business model has three years of losses written in to build its audience base and turn in profits.

“Our focus is on the digital platform because it is going to build a genuine B2C business for us. It will be a consistent business.  Our costs are consistent for content whether we have a million subscribers or 10 million on ALT. So it can be from Rs 400 crore to RS 4,000 crore depending on how we scale up.  Films show  a wobble. TV is our core business and it continues. However, it is getting commoditised and we will continue to produce TV shows whether for DD or private satellite channels. But digital has the potential to be a game changer. It is our big play.”

Nair also took an indirect dig at the oodles of money that is being used to create content by those rushing into the video on demand segment. “There’s a lot of noise about the big players, the broadcasters. And all the money that is going to be spent,” he explained. “ But we all know that the amount of money spent is not equal to how good a story is. You can spend a billion dollars to make something; you can spend a billion dollars to make a turkey.  We at Balaji are really focused on the story telling.  And that’s where our advantage lies.”

Also Read :

Alt Balaji ropes in Manav Sethi as CMO

Ekta ties up with Lemon Advisors for Alt Balaji global launch

Balaji to invest Rs 200 cr in ALT, launch in Jan '17

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