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QYOU aims to create content that will bring TV closer to digital

High quality regional content is what will work in India

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MUMBAI: The future of the Indian entertainment market may be digital but the death of television is over-exaggerated. A recent survey conducted by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India found total TV viewership in India gone up by 12 per cent from 2016. On the other hand, recent data from PwC revealed the OTT video market in India is growing at a CAGR of around 23 per cent. While the main difference lies between the consumption habit of the older generation and millennial audience, QYOU Media’s Indian arm is thriving on the convergence between TV and online. In an exclusive interaction with Indiantelevision.com, QYOU Media CEO and co-founder Curt Marvis spoke about the Indian market and the company’s expansion plan in India.

Curt Marvis, a renowned media veteran in digital ventures of Hollywood, has had a vivid experience. Way back in 1999, he co-founded online movie retailer CinemaNow and then spent a considerable amount of time in Lionsgate as president of digital media. In 2013, he co-founded QYOU, a media and production business that provides curated internet video content for television, mobile, and video-on-demand viewing. A year back it actively started to run operations in providing and packaging content for Indian audiences.

Though the company is still in its early days, it is putting high effort to grow its presence in India. As part of its expansion, it has secured content partnerships with Pocket Aces, Culture Machine, Desi Hip Hop Inc., TheVibe, Power Drift, Arre, The Comic Wallah, FabForm, etc.  Its rebranded channel Q India is available on Tata Sky and Jio TV. It even appointed Andy Kaplan, former president of Sony Pictures Worldwide Networks, as chairman of board of directors for QYOU India.

“India has a thriving TV market and mobile is fast becoming the first screen for many TV audiences in the region. Andy has significant expertise in this area and deep knowledge of the Indian market, which will help QYOU develop the right programming to meet the needs for mobile-first digital content, which is becoming an ever-more important objective for TV providers,” Marvis commented on his appointment.

Marvis thinks TV is still hugely popular in India which isn’t going to change overnight. However, he underlines the difference in media consumption habit between younger digital-native audiences and older generations. Younger audiences are fond of streaming videos on social media sites and mobile devices remain primary medium for them to access video content. He claims that by providing linear feed and custom shows, QYOU is bridging these two worlds – offering the type of content that helps TV providers tap into digital-first creativity and use it to drive their programming agenda for younger audiences.

In India’s OTT market, outsiders like Netflix and Amazon have found it tough to break into the country given the popularity of Hotstar. “Hotstar is currently India’s most popular OTT platform, enjoying 70 per cent of video streaming app downloads. In contrast, Amazon and Netflix only account for 5 per cent and 1.4 per cent of app downloads. One of the reasons why Hotstar is so well-liked is because, it has an extensive library of regional programming available in a number of local languages including, Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu,” he said.

Rather than fall back on importing subtitled US TV shows and films, the international players need to invest in locally relevant original programming. Amazon and Netflix have recognised this and are launching Indian original series but Marvis thinks they’re still playing catch-up to local OTT services like Hotstar. “For QYOU, these trends have meant onboarding Indian content creators and making programming that is tailored to the territory and culture. This way we know our shows are more culturally relevant and therefore have more stickiness,” he added.

Though Hotstar’s AVOD model has worked well for its acceptability among the mass audience, Indian audiences are not simply going for the cheapest option. He reaffirms the common belief of OTT players that audience is going for the service that they believe is the best value with the best programming. “Ultimately, the model which will work best in India will depend on the value the audience places on the service and we believe that high-quality regional programming can dramatically increase that value,” he concludes.

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