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Vikram Bhatt banks on pay per view for new OTT app

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MUMBAI: Riding on the growing demand for OTT content is producer Vikram Bhatt who recently launched his app VB on the Web.

Within two days it got 7000 downloads. But Bhatt is being cautious in over anticipating. He says, “It is quite early to judge the performance of app but it has got around 7k downloads in just two days, which is not bad. Let us see what will happen next.”

He said that India has a history of buying tickets, not subscribing, is where the idea emerged. “VB on the Web is like a theatre. We are making more of a theatre than a subscription-based app. Everything is moving online, whether it is a book show or a retail shop or a music shop. We realised that eventually, theatres are also going to move online. VB on the Web is the first theatre. Just like theatre, you buy tickets for whatever you want to watch on the app,” he said.

The model is what he calls as TVoD with a charge of Rs 18 for the entire series/season. Currently, Untouchables is now showing on the app and available for Rs 18, which is around Rs 1.2 per episode. There are other deals offers like season pass in which viewers can watch different web series on the app at a discounted price. For example, one for Rs 18 and two for Rs 30.

Using Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote ‘You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time’ he says that if they get people to pay and give irrelevant content, they won’t return. VB on the Web also gives people the option to watch trailers and then pay for content.

One of the app’s speciality is its availability to producers so they can display their web series directly.  

His 2018 line-up for the app includes Twisted 2, Maaya 2, Breaking News and Saharankot. He will not include movies on the platform. “We are now concentrating on original shows and short films of one hour and more are in the pipeline,” he adds.

Bhatt’s daughter Krishna Bhatt is currently working on Maaya 2 series and will be releasing it in March or April this year.

While talking about the investment per show, Bhatt opines that the cost per episode in digital is much more than the cost per episode of any general entertainment channel (GEC) show. Ideally, GEC shows cost between Rs 8-10 lakh per episode. But, according to Bhatt, it takes around Rs 1-1.5 crore to create one entire series, which is between Rs 12-15 lakh per episode.

VB on the Web has tied up with many payment gateway platforms. Airpay has a scheme of watch now and pay later and will soon launch a voucher system with tie ups with general stores.

Bhatt’s content is also available on other OTT platforms like YouTube and Viu, though they are now VB’s online competitors. But, while talking about the content on the other platforms Bhatt says, “YouTube doesn’t have Untouchables, maybe after 3-4 months we will upload it there and I am just a content provider for Viu. The platform has a different set of content that is created specifically for the platform. It has Spotlight, Gehraiyan and Memories and it will be with them only.”

Bhatt said that there is no competition with other platforms because they bunch many things. “I am a theatre, I don’t have something or the other to give every day. But, eventually, I will have 6-7 quality web original releases a month. Like a multiplex, even if five shows are running on the app, people can see the one they like and pay for that only,” he adds.

Whether Bhatt’s theatre will revive audiences will be known soon.

Also Read :

Vikram Bhatt to launch OTT platform on 27th Jan

2017: The year OTTs went regional in India

Viu set to launch musical drama spotlight 2 on 26th January

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