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#TwitterChat: Vishnu Mohta’s gameplan for regional OTT space is simple & effective

As part of our continuing efforts to bring to the fore, various aspects and issues related to the OTT industry in India, Adgully engaged with Vishnu Mohta, Executive Director, SVF Entertainment; Co-Founder, Hoichoi, in a #TwitterChat on the ‘The appetite for regional content in India’. The #TwitterChat took place yesterday (June 26, 2019) between 3 pm and 4 pm and also opened up to public questions soon after. 

At the outset, tackling the question on the size and potential of the market for regional content, Mohta noted that statistically, 85+ per cent streams in India were non-English, which was evenly split between Hindi and other Indian languages put together. “The overall potential for any language in our opinion is the size of the population that speaks that language natively, so we are talking about at least 6-7 languages in India having 100 million-plus population size who could over the years become customers,” he pointed out. 

Consumer preference for vernacular content 

According to Mohta’s research, a strong affinity and stickiness is seen when it comes to regional languages, as by and large people want to consume content in their native language. This especially holds true for the new internet users who will come online over the next few years and their native language might be the only language that they use. 

Joining in the conversation, Salankara Biswas, PR Manager, Hoichoi, pointed out, “There are 250+ million Bengalis residing worldwide, which is almost equal to the population of the US. I feel the content of your mother tongue will always be a sentiment which no one can replace, irrespective of where they reside. Hoichoi aims to reach out to all those Bengalis with the content of their choice, be it old or new; Classics or Originals.” 

Twitter user @bindadey added here, “We have seen very good engagement with promotional content created with regional content creators for Hindi movies.” 

Consumers prefer keeping a regional OTT app along with a mainline OTT app. “Most independent research shows that a majority of the online video consumers today subscribe to at least 2 OTT platforms and a high percentage of them have 3 or more OTT subscriptions too. This trend holds true globally too,” noted Mohta. 

Twitter user @AshokeGupta had a suggestion here, as he said, “We need more awareness on OTT services. Hoichoi is doing great, but it can reach out to more people.” 

Plans of regional OTT to scale up in the next three years 

“To my understanding, there are no other regional OTT apps with scale that I know of, so I can just talk about Hoichoi here. For us, it’s about amplifying our mix of great content and a seamless in-app experience backed by quirky marketing and an ever-present customer happiness team,” said Mohta. 

Importance of content 

The importance of content can’t be stressed enough. As Mohta pointed out, “Everything else that OTT players do is just about how they get the content to consumers as seamlessly as possible.” 

Twitter users @AshokeGupta and @Auroria_notes (Ria Banerjee) also agreed with this, commenting “Content is the king!” 

When asked what edge regional OTT players had over mainline players, who are also syndicating vernacular content, Mohta replied, “It has to be depth of content catalogue in a language. Focusing on a language makes content personalisation and discovery easier for the customer. We strongly feel each language has its own nuances, culture, audience preference, etc., which can only be catered to by creating content specifically keeping these things in mind.” 

Here, @AshokeGupta posed a few questions, “Any future plans of Hoichoi to enter other regional markets as a brand? How does Hoichoi see YouTube?” To this, Mohta replied, “We see YouTube as a great enabler in building the habit of online content consumption. For a customer to be willing to pay for content online, the journey has to start with free.” 

Continuing further, Mohta said that the marketing strategy for Hoichoi involved doing only disruptive campaigns that cut through the clutter, otherwise the focus was more on building communities around the brand, content and characters that they created. 

While appreciating what @hoichoitv is doing for the content business in Bengal, Twitter user @bindadey asked, “While original content is the USP, it does have a great movie library with old classics too. But when a lot of it is available on other OTT platforms, how does it carve out a niche?” 

Speaking on the price point for regional OTT players, Mohta, citing the example of Hoichoi, said that the platform was priced higher than some mainline OTT players and lower than some other players. “We started with the thesis that our price should not be a reason for anyone not to subscribe,” he concluded.

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