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hoichoi to double spending on content, announces 20 new shows

The Bengali OTT platform is also eying expansion in the non-Bengali market.

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Mumbai: The Bengali OTT platform hoichoi has bolstered its content library with as many as 20 new shows as it marked its fifth year in the streaming space. The streaming service brand recorded 2x growth in active monthly subscribers and now planning to double its investment in content to power the next phase of growth, it shared during the virtual event #HoichoiSeason5 held on Friday.

The go-to-market strategy will now rest on the pillars of content, tech and distribution, and expansion. “Since we only have a yearly subscription, it is very important for us to have high engagement on the platform. At (minimum) Rs 600 and Rs 900, it’s no way cheap to be on hoichoi, and hence we must continue to offer a great catalogue of films and shows on a regular basis for our premium users in order to drive subscription and engagement,” said hoichoi co-founder Vishnu Mohta.

hoichoi currently has over 80 originals and is eyeing to reach the target of 100 shows by the end of 2022. Going forward, the main focus will be to drive subscriptions by bolstering its content offering and expand in both Bengali and non-Bengali markets in India and globally, said the platform.

Content – Bengali/Dubbed Regional and Branded

Of the 12 world premiere films planned for next year, five titles will be led by noted directors such as Srijit Mukherji and Anjan Dutt, which will add to the existing catalogue of 600+ films.

Some of the originals revealed at Friday's event include "Srikanto," "Byomkesh 7," "Mahabharat Murders," "Eken Babu 5," "Troilokkyo," "Mandaar," "Rudrabinar Obhishaap," "Montu Pilot 2," "Khyapar Shohor," "Gora," "Tiktiki," "Swapan Kumar Obolomboney Bottolar Goyenda," "Uttaran," "Indu," "Boli" (Bangladesh), "Karagar" (Bangladesh), "Sabrina" (Bangladesh), "Kaiser" (Bangladesh), and "Bodh" (Bangladesh).

The platform also announced that it has witnessed a 2X growth in its overall watch-time and monthly active streaming users as well as a 4X growth in viewership, not only in India but in Bangladesh as well. It has recorded 60 minutes of average daily watch-time among subscribers, with each user visiting the platform thrice every day on an average.

"We are overwhelmed with the response we have received for hoichoi in both the regional and as well as national OTT space in the span of past four years," said co-founder Mahendra Soni. "hoichoi’s relevant and dynamic content has made it possible for us to build a diverse audience base, and as we step into the fifth year, the goal is to curate more remarkable content in collaboration with the best creators and talents of the industry."

The platform's monthly subscription numbers in Bangladesh have also doubled every month since last year. Buoyed by the success in the neighbouring country, it intends to produce at least seven to nine originals for the Bangladesh market in association with local talent.

While the pandemic-induced lockdown catapulted OTT platforms into accelerated growth, co-founder Vishnu Mohta believes the OTT culture began setting in among people for a few years now, and the pandemic only amplified it. “Since the pandemic surfaced, generally, people started getting accustomed to direct-to-digital releases along with the wide array of web series presented by the platforms. Post the lockdowns, OTT platforms have hardened their space in society. Therefore, this trend is here to stay. It will continue even in the post-pandemic world,” he said while talking to Indiantelevision.com ahead of the event.

For hoichoi, the growth was also led by its Hindi dubbed content, which has been very well-received on partner platforms, said Mohta. “In order to replicate this success across regional markets and establish a connect with Indian and global non-Bengali audience, the platform is now planning to dub its content in other languages like Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam,” he added.

Running into its fifth year, hoichoi has also stepped up its branded content and launched a 'Freemium' service that allows users to watch ad-free shows without having to pay. So far, two shows have been released in collaboration with jewellery brands - Turu Love with Senco Gold & Diamonds and Subharambha with PC Chandra Jewellers. “While we stick to our strategy of offering ad-free content, we believe that branded content does not interrupt the viewing experience. Freemium section is primarily intended to cater to different brand needs while ensuring the content remains engaging and high-quality," he added.

Expansion, distribution, and partnership

Running into its fifth year, one of the main focuses for hoichoi now is to drive more subscriptions on its platform through both direct subscription and subscription bundling partners. In India, besides its existing partnership with Jio Fibre for broadband subscription bundling, it has now partnered with Airtel as its preferred partner for mobility, broadband, and DTH bundling. There are other collaborations with ISP players like Alliance, Wishnet, Meghbela in India, and Link3 and Grameenphone and Sohoj in Malaysia.

In 2022, the brand aims to have more such subscription bundling partners across telecom, ISPs, e-commerce, and DTH services.

In order to reach out to tier 2 and 3 towns, hoichoi has also recently entered the retail vertical to enable subscription through offline payment mode where users can simply visit a local partner store and purchase a subscription by paying in cash. Sohoj and Paynearby are some of the current retail partners. Tie-ups with over 500 retail stores in both India and Bangladesh are planned for the next six months.

At present, at least 40 per cent of hoichoi’s direct subscription revenue is contributed by the international market. With an aim to deepen its presence among the large Bengali population in South-Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore and the middle-east, hoichoi is looking to partner with key telecom operators in the region. The launch of sachet pricing for both these markets is also on the anvil.

Additionally, it will be launching digital gift cards offering special pricing plans for this Durga Puja across many countries like the US, UK, Australia, Singapore, and the Middle East. Mohta shares that as part of the recurring payment ecosystem that exists in most international markets, hoichoi subscription charges hover at nine dollars per month.

Technology

On the tech front, hoichoi will soon be available with a new interface displaying added features such as content description, trailer auto-play feature on the content details page, new and improved search layout functionality, Hamburger Menu Navigation, and new signup, streaming player, and login page.

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