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Hoichoi to double original content to 100 hours this year

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MUMBAI: The over the top (OTT) platform that has been a rage in the eastern part of India has ambitious plans for the coming year. With about 50 hours of original content live on the platform, Hoichoi aims to double that to 100 hours by the end of 2018.

A product of Shree Venkatesh Films (SVF), Hoichoi has 16 original shows (with three in-house productions) and 500 movies thanks to its parent. With 20 years of experience in the media business, SVF was no stranger to the content business when it launched Hoichoi in September 2017. The mandate was simple: give premium and ad-free content in turn for subscription. While other players are jittery when it comes to subscription, Hoichoi co-founder Vishnu Mohta says it has been confident of an SVOD model in the niche Bengali market.

Mohta says that out of the three plans of Rs 399 for 12 months, Rs 249 for six months and Rs 149 for three, the six-month plan is the opted for the least. As long as people continue to pick the annual plan, the lack of uptake for the middle one doesn’t bother.

The first six months were dedicated entirely to brand awareness. Heavy marketing has been kept for later. However, Mohta believes that word of mouth will be a way to attract new customers. “We still believe very strongly that people, who want to watch content of this sort, will largely be driven by referrals. I think that drives a lot more business than pure marketing. We don’t do marketing on large scale. Our focus is largely on awareness,” he says. Last year’s #HoyeJak campaign was called a success and soon another campaign is on the anvil.

Using feedback, Hoichoi keeps updating its library and recently added an audio-streaming option too. Despite having originals, Mohta thinks that the power to acquire customers lies in the movie section since West Bengal has an active movie market.

“Movies make your decision easier when you subscribe because they come in handy on a Sunday afternoon.  Originals are about impulse, someone can see a trailer or may be told by a friend about a show. However, we made a promise to our consumers that we would continue with our originals,” he adds.

Among recent originals, Japani Toy was launched on 12 May. Another original Dupur Thakurpo which got great traction across Bengal, will see its second season launch on 26 May. Another show Shei Je Holud Pakhi, starring famous faces from the Bengali film industry Saswata Chatterjee and Tridha Choudhury will be launched sometime in June.

Hoichoi sees a potential market outside the state in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Agartala. Even the Indian diaspora markets of the US, UK and Middle East and even Bangladesh are large pockets offering good opportunities to leverage. For exploring the Bangladeshi market more, Hoichoi will provide payment options in local currency in the next one or two months. It has also bundled up one Bangladeshi show shot there and directed by a local name. The show Dhaka Metro will be followed by at least two more in 2018 itself.

Being in an industry which is backed by partnerships, Hoichoi is dependent on Viulift since its launch for tech support. To provide customers a seamless experience, Hoichoi depends on Amazon Cloudfront as CDN partner. It is in talks with many telcos both in India and Bangladesh too.

Customers are demanding more features, especially from second seasons, and this has thrown challenges for Hoichoi. But it looks like the plan for 2018 is a done deal.

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