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HOOQ targets tier I Indian cities as early adopters; plans original series

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MUMBAI: Come June and India will witness its first subscription based video-on-demand platform HOOQ.

As was reported earlier by Indiantelevision.com, the platform will compete with over the top (OTT) players like Hotstar and Ditto TV amongst others. As a major differentiating factor, HOOQ will be providing content that has not been available before to Indian consumers and intends to target tier I cities in the country as early adopters. However, the app will be available to all smart phone users nationally. The service also offers content for all age groups.

The OTT player is in the Indian market for the long haul. With a view to gather substantial number of users in the coming years, HOOQ is also looking at starting its own original series, a la Netflix, which had launched its exclusive made-for-web series House of Cards.

In a conversation with this website about its readiness to improve the platform, HOOQ India head Krishnan Rajagopalan said, “We are constantly going to be evolving the product and the content based on user feedback. This is very much a company philosophy and it’s really up to the user to give us feedback. The better feedback you give, the better the product will be.”

When queried whether the Indian audience is ready for a particular genre, which has more traction Rajagopalan said, “We are going to have different categories. The app will have all Indian languages and feeds and by the time we launch it will be more Indianised. It will be much more relevant, have genres that matter, top action, top rom-com; we will have it all.”

Talking about the Indian market, Rajagopalan said that since India was a fascinating market, there are bound to be challenges. “This is a first product in its category. I don’t think there is anybody doing what we are doing, which is to offer premium content that is not there on ad supported platforms. So we are spending a lot of money, tens of millions on marketing, content and technology. A major challenge is that there will be a lot of consumer education required in the early days and we clearly need to have the right content. We need to have the right distribution partnerships to make it as convenient to the consumer as possible. Not necessarily a challenge, but there are steps that we need to take before we become ubiquitous.”

While the company has not yet chalked out its marketing strategy, plans are to take ‘Go To Market’ (GTM) marketing route when the service’s commercial launch takes place in June.

Speaking about Warner Bros’ association with HOOQ, Warner Bros general manager N Muthuram said, “Singtel will have a strategic presence in the Indian market with their partnership with Airtel. While we are licensed to HOOQ, we also have other local partners and we have been providing content to others as well. The deal with HOOQ is to have access to all of the content that is relevant to the consumer.”

As reported earlier, the platform will have 10,000 movies and series from Hollywood, Bollywood and regional content for just Rs 199 a month. HOOQ is a joint venture with Singtel, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. It will provide content from international as well as local players and has already partnered with 60 local partners.

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