TVF, Ola Cabs & the Permanent Roommates association


MUMBAI: One of India’s popular YouTube channels and digital producers, The Viral Fever (TVF), is back with the second season of its flagship web series Permanent Roommates . And how!

Touting it as the best web series that TVF has put together so far, TFV CEO and founder Arunabh Kumar has high hopes from this ambitious project. The company is making this production in association with call taxi service Ola Cabs as of Permanent Roommates season 2.

While Kumar refused to divulge any details, a source close to the development guesstimated that Ola has shelled out  an eye-popping Rs 2.5-3 crore for backing the production.

Slated to go online on TVF Play and TVF’s YouTube channel on Valentine’s Day, the new season will consist of eight 30 - 40 minute long power packed episodes.

It will take off from where season one left off — the drama in the lives of Internet’s most-loved fictional characters Tanya (Nidhi Singh) and Mikesh (Sumeet Vyas). The episodes are scheduled to air fortnightly. And the theme is “The Third Kind of Love.”

Kumar expects viewership to touch four - five million per episode, which hardly comes as a surprise given last season’s success.

Launched in October 2014, the web series grossed over 12 million views for five episodes that aired on YouTube, with every episode having more than a million views making it the (claimed) second most watched online long form content in the world.

“Our target is to cater to and retain the three million viewers who already follow Permanent Roommates and maybe expand our viewership by a couple of more million. We have weaved the content so that it is not only a youth-based love story but also has elements of interest for the entire family. We have some surprises for all of them,” adds Kumar.

What’s more, with a big chunk of sponsorship money in, the pressure is on the creative geniuses to up the ante now. Season One had CommonFloor as the brand partner; hence, the home was one of the main protagonists.

Will season 2, see them going around in taxis or make mentions of them using the service like the duo does in the promo that released today?

“We do work really hard in trying to integrate the brand’s value through the storytelling and send across the brand statement through the narrative rather than a product placement in a 10-second shot,” says Kumar.

If the guesstimated sponsorship amount of Rs 2.5 crore to Rs 3 crore is right, then TVF has a budget of Rs 30-35 lakh per episode at its disposal, which is far higher than the commissioning fees for fictional TV shows on GECS which are in the range of Rs 7 to Rs 15 lakh per episode.

“We generally take six to nine months to complete a production. We pay attention to detail and operate on a crew of almost a hundred people,” explains Kumar, adding that one can’t compare it to television as television mathematics work completely differently.

The latest teaser released by TVF has already created a buzz amongst netizens with over a lakh views in just a few hours. Fans can expect a longer promo from 4 February onwards leading up to the show’s launch on 14 February.

Surprisingly, with a scale this high, TVF continues to confidently depend on word of mouth and social buzz to increase its audience.

“We don't have any solid marketing strategy in place. We will do what we usually do, post messages on our respective social media accounts and our ever attentive fans will spread the word,” Kumar says confidently.

Having said that, TVF is also looking at dabbling in conversational marketing by collaborating with several partners and maybe go beyond digital and make the shows presence felt offline.

In the new content ecosystem, everything goes, doesn’t it?


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