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ALTBalaji direct subscriptions up by 60-70% over last quarter

70% ALTBalaji consumers have opted for quarterly subscriptions

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MUMBAI: Balaji Telefims’ digital venture ALTBalaji has been quickly growing its subscriber base and subscription revenue, further reinforcing the OTT sector’s belief that Indian consumers are more than ready to pay for engaging content. After three consecutive strong quarters on the digital front, the company is now set to shift gears when it comes to its content strategy. Going forward, the video streamer will lay greater emphasis on strategically acquiring direct consumers.

“We are now at a process where we are confident that we will do about 24 to 30 shows in a year plus three categories of shows, so that is either male focus shows or female focus dramas. We are reinforcing that content strategy and our focus on international, which will be even more as we go ahead as our library builds up,” Balaji Telefilms group CEO Sunil Lulla said in an earnings call after the company announced its Q3 results.

The Ekta Kapoor-led production house’s OTT arm boasts of 13.1 million paid subscriptions as of February, with a 2x growth in monthly active users that now stand at 4.6 million. 70 per cent of the platform's consumers have opted for a quarterly subscription.

In addition to that, ALTBalaji has witnessed nearly 60-70 per cent growth in direct subscription numbers over the last quarter. On the back these consumers’ willingness to pay Rs 300 monthly, the OTT platform has made investments and upped marketing spends to further boost these subscriptions.

Lulla pointed out the subscriber addition is happening at two levels – new subscribers and those returning post the churn.  Notably, Lulla had said in an earnings call after the Q1 result that about 70-80  per cent of traffic comes from telcos while the ARPU from the sector stands at around Rs 15 per month.

The veteran media executive stated that not only have the new shows aided subscriber addition, but the old ones too make up for a good share. The overall growth in library has played a key role too, he highlighted. The management hopes to hit a tipping point in the next 12 to 18 months.

While the group had undertaken an equity infusion of around Rs 450 crore in ALTBalaji, it has already invested Rs 350 crore of that.

“It will be sufficient while we said that we put in Rs 350 crore. You must understand that a lot of cash that is there in production is in production contract that has been executed and they will also get accrued when they are actually put on air, if you see the two content cost across the two years that is not equal to Rs 350 crore yet,” Lulla argued when asked if the balance Rs 100 crore would be enough for the next two years.

While the group had projected Rs 60 crore in revenue from ALTBalaji for the financial year, it has so far been able to garner Rs 28 crore. However, the number does not contain revenues from international market, which is yet to be reported. Lulla, however, admitted that the strategy for international market probably hasn’t played out the way he had expected it to.

While TV business continues to be the highest revenue generator of Balaji Telefilms group, it hasn’t shown exponential growth. The group launched new shows in the first quarter, with TV shows already on air having hit maturity. The management now hopes to further improve the performance from this quarter to about five to ten per cent in the next and keep consolidating thereafter.

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