We foresee a 40-50% jump in profits every year: Vamshi Reddy, Apalya
Apalya Technologies started with a vision to deliver content across digital devices in 2005. The reach of TV content was limited to television back then, while smartphones were still a rarity. Sensing this opportunity to bring together the content owners, mobile telcos and end users, Apalya started with Mobile TV and has grown to serve every major telco in South Asia and the Middle East with 100+ million subscribers.
Since 2015, Apalya’s focus has been on building and deploying its proprietary OTT platform – myplex. Myplex did its first outing in Indonesia, hosting the FIFA World Cup as an OTT offering for a prominent telecom operator. From there, it moved on to power the OTT service for Vodafone India’s 4G offering (Vodafone Play) and Sun TV Network’s full spectrum OTT service (SunNxt).
Apalya Technologies is one of the pioneers in providing TV and video-on-demand services to cellular users in India and over the last decade it has grown to serve 30+ customers across telecom and media in 13 countries.
Vamshi Reddy, CEO & Co-Founder of Apalya Technologies, has been leading the company’s efforts in corporate strategy and business development, which have made Apalya synonymous with mobile TV in India. His efforts saw Apalya raise capital from marquee investors like Cisco, Kalari, IDG and Qualcomm. Reddy is also passionate about encouraging entrepreneurs and mentors, and invests in small companies.
In a brief interaction with Adgully, Vamshi Reddy does a quick recap of 2017, especially for the OTT streaming landscape in India as well as the trends that will pave the way for more content consumption on OTT in 2018. He also speaks about Apalya’s growth journey, its platform – myplex, the road ahead, and more. Excerpts:
Could you give us a quick wrap up of the year gone by and the upcoming trends for 2018?
Globally, cord cutting has been a phenomenon. Disruption by Reliance Jio and high speed internet at low costs has boosted the growth of OTT streaming in India. The mobile phone is ubiquitous and, as some thought-leaders say, will be responsible for bringing in the next billion internet users. But if you look at the affluent household segments, there is a convergence of devices from phones/ tabs/ desktops to casting interfaces to the conventional screens (television).
In 2018, consumption will also start becoming device-agnostic. Smart TVs may add to the changing consumption and behaviour patterns as they start replicating the more user-friendly mobile interfaces. We will see more media owners going the OTT way, and more consumers gravitating towards consuming content online. Regional content is going to get bigger, and we will see more content being produced in the vernacular for a very niche segment of audience. We are already seeing that with Sun NXT and Hoichoi, for instance.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) are seen as game changers in the OTT space, but it could take longer than 2018 for the Indian market to get there.
How has demonetisation impacted the industry from the payment wallet’s perspective? Has this given any boost to OTT players who have chosen to charge viewers for content?
So far, there has been some minimal impact of demonetisation. Subscription-based model is slowly getting a push in the Indian economy as their acceptance towards making payments digitally has been growing. Pricing is an important point to factor in while accounting for impact, as India is a price sensitive market.
Statistically, the Frost & Sullivan 2015 report points out that there are 66 million unique connected video viewers in India, of which 1.3 million are paid video subscribers. A lot of fluctuation is noted in the online video subscription numbers each month. The number of unique online video viewers is touted to grow from 66 million in 2015 to 355 million in 2020 and digitisation of cash is stated as the reason behind the aforesaid growing numbers.
How has the journey and transformation of Apalya been – from content aggregation to a technology player?
When we started Apalya in 2005, mobile was seen as the ‘next big thing’ and people were talking about 3G networks. As content was only viewed on television, we worked with content owners/ developers and telecom companies to set up Mobile TV. We were the pioneers in live-streaming IPL matches and Cricket World Cup. Apart from building the platform and investing in technology, we used to aggregate and distribute content.
Over time we evolved with the ecosystem. As the field started getting polarised between content owners, large content distributors like telecoms and technology specialists, we zeroed in on our niche as an end to end technology platform. With our immense experience in the field, we have developed the most agile platform ‘myplex’, a plug-and-play solution for anybody looking to go the OTT way.
Please tell us about the company’s vision, growth plans and its flagship product – myplex.
We want to help media owners, content creators and distributors to realise their OTT aspirations. In this regard, our flagship product, myplex, is one of the most agile and flexible solutions in the market that encompasses all the components required for a state-of-the-art service. Having grown up solving the challenging problems of emerging markets, we are tremendously adaptable and responsive and our deployment cycles have generally been very fast.
Most of the current OTT solutions available in the market are rigid and not easily customisable. One of the biggest differences with Apalya’s approach is that we partner our customers through their entire journey. It’s not a piecemeal, off-the-shelf solution. It’s as customised and engaged as you need it to be.
What does the road ahead look like for Apalya?
Over the last 10 years, we have raised enough capital and are quite self sufficient. We are always open to investments and are looking to acquire robust analytics and data science companies. We have done remarkably well in the last couple of years and we foresee a 40-50 per cent jump in profits every year at the current growth rate.
We are also focused on constantly evolving our platform capabilities. Thirty per cent of our workforce spends time on R&D for the platform to enhance customer experience and give them the competitive edge that is required. We are already powering Vodafone Play and Sun NXT completely on the myplex platform and will soon be signing up more clients in South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa.