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Hooq plans to invest $2 million on original Indian content

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MUMBAI: Hooq plans to invest $ 2 million in Indian original content in India. This is part of its APAC strategy to start sourcing local original content in Asian countries.

A joint venture of SingTel, Sony Pictures TV and Warner Bros., Hooq entered the Indian market back in May this year with a catalogue of over 10,000 movies and TV series.

“We are in talks with a few other (production) studios in India but nothing finalised yet. As we are still in an observation phase, we are seeing a gap in local language content available on broadcasters’ apps. Such content or programming is not available on other neutral platforms too. That is the gap we are looking (at filling),” said Hooq India managing director Salil Kapoor.

Though Kapoor refused to comment on investment plans, entertainment industry sources indicated that in the first phase Hooq is likely to spend up to $ 2 million in Indian original content, a plan that’s similar to what the company proposes to do in some other Asian countries too.

Apart from Hollywood content, Hooq has presently sourced Indian films and shows from studios like Rajshri Productions, Reliance Entertainment, Shemaroo Entertainment, Balaji Telefilms and Whacked Out Studios. With the cost of making original English language shows high, the platform is considering Hindi and other Indian language content.

For the OTT platform, consumption of its service in the four south Indian states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is high and an area of focus in terms of content and expanding subscriber base.

Though the Indian OTT market is still in an early stage in terms of revenue generation and subscriber base, Hooq has priced its monthly subscription at Rs 199 in a price sensitive market where high data charges and indifferent bandwidth are also major challenges for an OTT player. New subscribers are offered a seven-day trial package for free.

Interestingly, all the investors of Hooq have other investments too in India. SingTel is a major investor in telco Bharti Airtel, while both Sony Pictures TV and Warner Bros. have separate businesses running in India. Hooq presently operates in the Philippines, Thailand and India with a population footprint of over 1.4 billion people.

India, which as per a Media Partners Asia report could gain in APAC online video segment owing to China’s restrictive policies, has seen some global digital players setting up shop with significant initial investments in the OTT/VOD eco-system.

Netflix, for example, has earmarked $5 billion for content creation and acquisition for 2016 calendar period. Chinese Internet conglomerate LeEco is likely to invest nearly $1.5 billion in media-entertainment industry for content aggregation. Amazon Prime, according to media reports, plans to invest $300 million in funding movies and television series in India and is in talks with Bollywood studios.

Apart from global players, local players too have lined up significant investments in content for online video services. This includes Star India, Viacom18, Sony India, Savvn, Zee, Times of India group and Arre. Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries has plans to pump in $17 billion in the Reliance Jio eco-system to build a platform that is aimed at taking Indians to live the digital life with cutting-edge services and quality content.

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