Balaji Telefilms targets OTT as core business in 5 years' time

BENGALURU: Just a couple of days back at the Indian Digital Operators Summit (IDOS) 2015 organised by and Media Partners Asia, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) principal advisor SK Gupta said that ‘the customer was king’ and suggested that players in the broadcast industry ecosystem look at over-the-top (OTT) platforms to cater to the consumers need.

Taking a cue from the current ‘over the top’ mood in the Indian broadcast industry, Balaji Telefilms Ltd is planning to make digital B2C (business to consumer) as its core business in five years’ time. This strategy will be driven via its own content as well as curated content.

As was reported earlier by, this business will be housed under Balaji’s subsidiary company ALT Digital, which was re-launched in Q2-2016 with renewed vigour.

With a three-pronged growth strategy covering television, films and digital B2C, Balaji Telefilms is looking at becoming a diversified media company. The most important component of the company’s growth strategy is to diversify into new opportunities via digital B2C. Balaji's plans are built around the emerging changes in the consumers’ viewing habits.

Through ALT Digital, Balaji plans to offer original and curated premium content on its own Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) and advertising -Video on Demand (AVOD) platform across multiple genres and languages to garner a share of the online mobile and video market. The subscription driven platforms on ALT mobile app and other connected devices as well as the ALT website are slated for a Beta launch in Q3-2016 (quarter ending 31 December, 2016). Additionally, technical development, content production, promo launch and pre-launch marketing is also being targeted in the same quarter. The formal launch is being targeted for Q4-2016 (quarter ending 31 March, 2016).

While Balaji has been a content company, it seldom has had the chance to interact directly with the consumers. Now with the digital foray, not only will it have an opportunity to connect with consumers but will also be the owner of the digital IP unlike in television content where the IP of the show belongs to the broadcaster.

According to the company, a majority of content available online are either re-runs or DIY, which in turn leaves a big opportunity to offer original web-series for internet audience.

The business model that Balaji has chalked out for digital is subscription based ‘freemium’ approach as the primary source of revenue. Revenue from advertising, licensing and sponsorship will be the secondary source of revenue.

Targeting an urban and semi-urban audience group that comprises smartphone internet users active on YouTube and social media in the 19-34 age group, Balaji plans to use global ‘best of breed’ technology to ride on the imminent explosion of internet bandwidth in the country. Viewers will have streaming and offline viewing options, delivered over multiple screens. 

The company’s strategy is to churn out original, edgy, never-seen-before content in India created especially for the OTT platform.

Balaji Telefilms is in the process of putting together a skilled team. Additionally, a robust implementation plan is being executed to help realise the opportunity and meet its goals.

Apart from its digital focus, Balaji Telefilms’ other two areas of focus are its existing businesses of television content and film production. On the television front, the company, which has had Hindi fiction as its mainstay until now, is planning to foray into regional and non-fiction content by making selective risk-reward plays. On the other hand, for films Balaji’s strategy is to scale moderately and become profitable.

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