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After acquiring 2.5mn subscribers, ALTBalaji to go international

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MUMBAI: ALTBalaji, the OTT platform of Balaji Telefilms, has made all the right noises since its inception in April 16, 2017. With 2.5 million subscribers on the ALTBalaji platform, the company now wants to scale up its investments in the digital domain with two major plans – double the original shows in the next 10 months and enter into international markets.

In an astute move, the company has collaborated with Sony Entertainment to procure IP rights of the show Dil Hi Toh Hai. As per industry norms, channels tend to get the IP rights when such deals are struck. On this occasion, however, Balaji Telefilms has managed to retain the rights of the show. The episodes will be available on ALTBalaji 24 hours after they are aired on Sony.

 “As far as we go, we feel we are investing a lot in our digital future as a company and that’s why it’s important for us to slowly also be invested in all the digital rights of the content that we create and therefore it is a first step in that direction,” ALTBalaji CEO and group COO Nachiket Pantvaidya told Indiantelevision.com.

Pantvaidya claims no revenue was sacrificed to acquire these rights.

“I am trying to say it is just not about retaining rights. You have a ready avenue to exploit that. We have done this strategically so it’s not just we retain the right and do nothing with it,” he added.

Since its launch, ALTBalaji has been very aggressive with its original shows. From Bose: Dead or Alive to Kehneko Humsafar Hain and Ragini MMS, the brand has made an attempt to appeal to a wide segment of the Indian society. Not narrowing down its target audience has enabled the brand to build an audience in Tier II and Tier III cities.

ALTBalaji’s success in India has given the company confidence to spread its wings overseas.

“Our next target is to launch our service internationally by dubbing it in two languages Bahasa, Sinhala. We have also a Bangla dub plan which will target countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh. In addition, we will also try to get the higher ARPU nations like US and UK to consume our content,” said Pantvaidya of his company’s next moves.

While some platforms are planning to stream more digital first movies, ALTBalaji is banking on episodic content. Future episodes and seasons keep the user constantly engaged with the platform, the Balaji team believes.  And if the numbers are anything to go by, they might as well stick to their current formula of programming.

When it comes to subscriptions, the quarterly package contributes to 65% of the traffic. The company’s partnerships with Jio, Vodafone, Airtel, contributes 60-70% of its revenue. Moreover, 90% of its traction comes from mobile devices.

With a plan to have a library of 42 original shows including 6-7 kids show by next March, the platform wants to stick to the SVOD model at least for the next ten months.

 While we often refer to OTT platforms as catch-up TV, ALTBalaji wants to increase its subscriber base by relying on original shows rather than being dependent on commissioned content.

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