‘OTT will not cannibalise our TV revenues’

Rashmi Pratap Mumbai | Updated on January 14, 2019

Balaji Telefilms, synonymous with saas-bahu serials on television, has also made a mark in the OTT space, where audience are spending about 75 minutes each day on watching its content online. BusinessLine caught up with Sunil Lulla, CEO at Balaji Telefilms, to understand if its app ALTBalaji will cannibalise TV revenues and how it will differentiate itself in a crowded market. Excerpts:

How important is ALTBalaji in the overall scheme of things at Balaji Telefilms?

ALTBalaji is an integral part of Balaji Telefilms. The OTT play defines the new generation screen for Indian audience. Within a year of its launch, ALTBalaji has produced more original exclusives (in Hindi) than any other player in the OTT space. It is our vision to grow binge-viewing in the OTT space, which is why we decided to take the initiative of creating content for our largest demographic – Hindi speaking and understanding audience. ALTBalaji provides entertainment on the second screen, which is becoming a phenomenal habit across India.

What percentage of total revenues is contributed by ALTBalaji. How do we see this growing in future and how will it impact the proportion of other two revenue streams — TV and films?

It’s a little more than 10 per cent and we see a quantum growth in terms of subscribers and consequently subscriptions. The OTT space is growing fast. At this point of time, we estimate over a 3-5 years scale, this should be perhaps almost equal to the revenues that come from the content we create for television.

Do you foresee your OTT platform cannibalising TV revenues going forward?

In India, the OTT space and the television industry will co-exist in harmony. We witness 88 per cent of households having just one television and almost 90 per cent of television-viewing audience consumes this content with their family. OTT is more personal, therefore the preferences that individual have in viewing are very different from the preferences they have when they watch as a family together. So, we believe both will exist.

The fact is that audience are finding the time to consume content on both the mediums. We believe that television will be the mainstay in terms of drawing room phenomenon and OTT will be the mainstay in terms of personal device phenomenon.

What is your biggest differentiation in a market crowded with OTT apps?

ALTBalaji was launched for addressing the biggest demographic of Hindi understanding audience. Within this, we have focussed around segments of upscale audience, urban mass as well as audience segregated by both gender and age groups. Within each, our programme choices of tent pole stories, romantics, drama, thriller, humour, etc enable us to serve differentiated interests. We have been defining content-cultural changes and shaping new trends. All this is served at an affordable price of less than ₹1 per day (₹300 for annual pack) and accessible on five devices. An average subscriber spends 75 minutes per day with ALT, which is much higher than any other service.

What is the target for Balaji Telefilms in the next five years? And how will you achieve that?

We are driven by one vision and that is to entertain. Our TV content business has a strong order book. We already have movies slated for release in 2019 and over 40 shows on the floor for ALT. We believe there is big growth in the OTT space and there is a value to be created across all our three lines of business. Over five years, we will add to our lines of business and a few initiatives are underway. For the next five years, stakeholders as well as our audiences can expect two things from us – growth and entertainment.

Published on January 14, 2019

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