AltBalaji focuses on mass audience to achieve profitability

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on May 10, 2019

In March 2018, the total unique visitors across digital platforms were 273.3 million. The highest unique visitors are from the age group 15-24 years. FILE PHOTO

Video streaming platform from the Balaji Telefilms group, AltBalaji, could become the first Indian OTT platform to turn profitable if things go according to plan for the company.

"We are at Rs 300 a year as against Netflix' Rs 500 a month. In terms of numbers, we are far ahead because we want to be a mass platform. We are looking to break-even in the next 18 months," Nachiket Pantvaidya, CEO, AltBalaji, told BusinessLine.

AltBalaji is relying completely on the subscription model as against an ad-led model that most other OTT providers in India have chosen to take. But with racy content, a completely different approach from its television content, the company has been able to grow rapidly in numbers.

"We believe that in India, mobile phones account for 90 per cent of content consumption. Therefore, we need to create content for individual viewing as opposed to family viewing. We feel the audience profile for mobile is significantly different," Pantvaidya said.

"Our programming is largely fiction for mobile. Shows that people are willing to pay for. We make shows for, one, the mass female audience. Second, is the under-served male audience. We are also doing some shows that help us attract an international audience," he said.

AltBalaji recently completed two years in operation and has already more than tripled revenue in the second year.

"In the first year we launched 18 shows. In the second year of operations, we have 35 shows. In the first year, we did a topline of about Rs 7 crore. In the first three quarters of the second year, we've already done Rs 28 crore. If this trajectory continues, we'll break-even in 18 months. We want to prove that we are an economically successful model in the market," Pantvaidya said.

He firmly believes that the platform serves the mass audience, who may not want to watch the same content with family, but are willing to pay a Rs 300 a year fee. He says the company has no intention of getting into premium content that is served by the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

"We don't want to go after elite audiences. Our pricing is on the lower side. We are comfortable in that area. We are David taking on the Goliath," he said.

The content, however, is finding resonance with customers, even overseas, especially in markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia and West Asia.

"We are finding resonance with audiences in South-East Asia. We are dubbing our content in languages such as Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia," Pantvaidya said.

Given the growth, AltBalaji is now investing Rs 100 crore in content and another Rs 50 crore in marketing efforts. That will translate into 100 shows till 2020. The company currently has about 60 per cent of its revenues coming through operators such as Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea, but expects more direct sales going forward.

Published on May 10, 2019

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