The OTT space will completely work on collaboration & innovation: Kranti Gada

Adgully caught up with Kranti Gada, COO, Shemaroo Entertainment, and Zubin Dubash, COO - Digital, Shemaroo Entertainment, at the launch event of new OTT platform Shemaroo Me. Both elaborate on the strategy behind entering the OTT space, the strength of Shemaroo Me's content, focus on Indian-ness and offering genre-based choices. 

What is the TG that you are targeting?
As digital becomes more mass, it is going to ape broadcast media in terms of consumption habits. If you see the number of movies that get consumed on television, it’s insane! When you go beyond the top tier even in Metros, you will see that they want to see something that they are familiar and comfortable with. The growth that our content saw after the 4G rollout; we have outdone YouTube, whatever their pace of growth was, we have outgrown that. In the last 3 years, year on year we have doubled our YouTube base. Shemaroo Entertainment gets more than 90 million unique users a month. Filmy Gaane gets 80 million users per month. YouTube as a platform gets roughly 225-250 million users per month. Our content is HSM Hindi speaking market, so roughly 65 per cent of the market. A good 150 million people are consuming Hindi content, of which 90 million are on my platform on a monthly basis on not just one, but two channels! 

For our Gujarati content, the average watch time that we have noticed is massive. We have made a special effort in growing our Gujarati library and going beyond just films. The amount of work that we are doing at the grassroots level in this industry has allowed us to understand the pulse of the industry. 

For Devotion content, we have roughly 2,500 hours of content and we will keep creating new content. At the ongoing Kumbh Mela, we have set up a hall where we are showcasing devotional movies that get a daily audience of 5,000-6,000 people. We used VR to shoot the Kumbh Mela on the auspicious day of Mouni Amavasya in 360 degrees. We are making a documentary on Kumbh daily. We have plans to make 35-40 different documentaries covering different sectors. Thus, our content as well as focus on devotional content is unparalleled. 

Where do you intend to go with Kids’ content?
The great thing about Kids’ content is that it has amazing repeat value. In our DVD rental days, our customers used to rent shows like ‘Bal Ganesh’ every time as that’s all their kids wanted to watch. Our focus on kids is going to be around Indian-ness. We believe it is important to impart Indian values to our children. Parents today are focusing on that as well and this kind of content connects well with the masses. We have a massive library of such content and will be enriching it as we go forward. 

A lot of content you have in your library is for a co-viewing experience. OTT is a standalone experience. Do you expect any challenges in consumption due to this?
The content transcends such habits, whether it is single viewing or co-viewing. Today, with TV becoming a medium for digital viewing because of apps and casting, we are available on TV for co-viewing. Even mobile viewing we have noticed that it is not always one person viewing. If you go back to our YouTube viewership, you can see that 95 per cent of our consumption is, as it is, happening on the back of digital. 

What content will be behind the paywall and what content will be shared across platforms?
As Hiren Gada mentioned, where we see core consumer value and core consumer need, we will be putting out content that caters to that exclusively on our platform. We may do some smart distribution deals, where we may syndicate through our platform to other digital platforms. The way digital is evolving today, it is an ocean that no solo player can capture alone. We believe this space will completely work on collaboration and innovation. OTT as a platform gives us a medium to do that innovation. When you only have content, there is only so much that you can do, but with a platform you can innovate in the way you collaborate and the way you become relevant to the consumer. 

Will you integrate the Filmy Gaane app into Shemaroo Me app?
Yes. We will not run parallel apps. The OTT platform will also have a section for Filmy Gaane. 

Could you tell us about the revenue model?
We have given the consumer an easy choice to make. Depending on the genre that they are a fan of, they can choose to subscribe to Bollywood Classic, Bollywood Plus, Devotion, etc. A lot of other platforms differentiate their content as Movies, TV, Regional, etc., but we are not doing that. We classify our curated content, linear television, and content around content. We have created more than 100 hours of content only around the Classics. There are different formats of shows and we have differentiated based on the format. Filmy Gaane comes under a separate format. 

This choice helps the consumer who is not that savvy to adopt our platform. We understand that the early adopter is savvy, but the next level consumer needs help. 

Even coming from an affordable price point of view, you do not need to avail all the content on the app. If you just want to see Classic films, you can just subscribe to that, but if you want to view more than one category, then maybe it makes sense to subscribe to the whole pack. We also offer monthly and annual options for these packages. 

What would be the breakdown of your international and Indian audience?
Numbers wise, there are about 4.5 million Indian audiences overseas. International audience does not make a dent subscriber wise for anybody. What it does is raise the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User). We hope our international strategy will work for us and they are an important audience for us. 

All this content used to be shown by broadcasters as repeats once. With you coming in with this content on OTT, what scope do you see for them, especially the Hindi channels?
Television still has a role to play and I don’t think it is going anywhere in a hurry. Indians love television and I think there is a demand for both pre-programmed and on-demand content. Most of these broadcasters have their own digital apps and they are complementing each other.

L:R Zubin Dubash, Hiren Gada, Tiger Shroff, Kranti Gada
L:R Zubin Dubash, Hiren Gada, Tiger Shroff, Kranti Gada

Meanwhile, Speaking on the research that went into formulating Shemaroo Me, Zubin Dubash, COO – Digital, Shemaroo Entertainment, said, “It could have been as simple as taking up all our content and putting it on an OTT platform. However, just putting up content would have made it a library. We didn’t want to do that. So, we identified the players in the market, the content that we have, and our competition on the basis of content. What is our promise to the end consumer where Shemaroo Me is concerned? So, we looked at how our content could answer the customers’ needs and the answer we arrived at was devising a whole host of categories, where each category came out of those discussions.” 

He further said, “Our content is very powerful, rich and in demand. 90 million viewers are watching our content and we are not advertising to them on YouTube. Keeping that in mind, we developed each category to cater to each viewer separately. Bollywood Classics, for example, is a very clear genre that we want to capitalise on. Gujarati is another category where we own probably 70 per cent of the entire content available in the market. We have a line-up of almost 400 Gujarati films. We have mapped out the entire ecosystem and have found out where we can deliver to our fans.” 

“Every year the value of our content increases. There is a new battery of consumers who really appreciate our content. The repeat value of content consumption has been immense. What you saw in our video is actually capturing the reality of that consumption. We thought if there is so much fanaticism around our content, then why shouldn’t we offer it on our platform? We want to be omnipresent and go where the customer is. Customers are not platform loyal, they are content loyal,” Dubash concluded.


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