Regional OTT services coming of age

|October 6, 2018 0

Soma Tah

Thanks to the availability of budget smartphones and cheaper data plans, the viewing habits of Indian consumers have evolved a lot in the last few years. Binge-watching shows on streaming platforms are more common rather than watching them on daily or weekly instalments. 

As a matter of fact, these factors worked in favour of the India media & entertainment industry as well as the on-demand streaming platforms and over-the-top content (OTT) service providers, by creating a sizeable opportunity for them to reach to the target consumers segment with their choice of content. 

It created a win-win situation for the regional OTT players focusing on content in local languages as well. Because, unlike the players such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, or Hotstar, etc. who are catering largely to the English and Hindi-speaking urban population, these players have the advantage to tap the mass market including semi-urban and rural population and reshape their viewing habits. 

We were speaking to one such OTT platform, hoichoi backed by Eastern India’s large film and entertainment production house SVF- which is predominantly focusing on Bengali content and found quite a few unique ways to disrupt the market. Within a year of operation, it has managed to garner a fair share of interest from the target user base, not only in different parts of India but among a large Bengali-speaking population living abroad as well.  

Vishnu Mohta, Co-Founder, hoichoi said, “We launched Hoichoi with the objective of making it the ultimate destination for Bengali entertainment and we believe we have taken great strides on our way to achieving it. The fact that the average time spent in-app for Hoichoi is 60 minutes per day per subscriber is extremely encouraging, which is way above the industry average.”

Mahendra Soni, Shrikant Mohta, and Vishnu Mohta, Co-founders, hoichoi (L to R)

Tapping a larger base of Bengali-speaking population overseas

Hoichoi is targeting 250 million-plus Bengali-speaking population living worldwide and hence, after testing waters in India, it has now ventured into neighbouring Bangladesh and the UAE in the Middle East, as these are the markets with a potential of more than 180 million customers. While expansion into Bangladesh through local payment gateways, is a natural decision to reach a wider audience, entry into the Middle East is aimed at connecting with the huge migrant Bengali population living in the Arabian Peninsula nation, said Mohta. 

The idea was to create the right content mix also. Hence, it has plans to create relevant content for these regions as well, keeping the interest of the viewers in mind. For example, it is planning to add kids content on its platform. Some of its original shows will be dubbed in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Arabic also on a trial basis to gauge the interest of a broad spectrum of viewers residing in different regional pockets for considering separate monetizing options or for creating a separate revenue stream out of it altogether.    

Hoichoi has also partnered with telco providers to reach a wider base of users. Hoichoi’s content will be available on Airtel TV in India. Similarly, in Bangladesh, it has partnered with local telecom provider, Robi and with Etisalat and du in the UAE. 

Removing entry-barriers and innovative pricing structures 

While extending footprint in India and overseas is definitely an important part of its future expansion plan, it is also experimenting with new ways to disrupt the OTT services market, such as payment and pricing options. 

There’s no denying of the fact that OTT players have more pricing powers, as they can experiment with the product and content offerings, pricing structures, additional revenue options more often than traditional content providers and also provide users with more viewing and pricing options to choose from. A recent survey by Accenture shows that the viewers who subscribe to both a pay-TV package and an OTT service, spend 43 per cent of their total viewing time on OTT content. But the fact is that they spend only 23 per cent of their monthly media consumption budget on OTT. 

Hoichoi has taken a conscious decision to adopt the advertisement-free Subscription video on demand (SVoD) model from the beginning. Now for the movie-buffs, it is introducing a ‘Pay Per View’ Transactional Video on Demand (TVoD) model on its platform for movies, giving the viewers an option to pay for the content on an a-la-carte basis. The movies will be released on Hoichoi within two weeks approx. of their theatrical release. 

To make the entry barrier for the non-metro users in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, the service provider is making the subscription convenient with Hoichoi Top-Up cards which can be bought from the nearest retailers. This is an addition to the existing payment options including UPI, Debit Card, Credit Card, net banking, and wallets. 

Using technology to elevate viewers’ experience

Besides making the experience of users as frictionless as possible on the platform, the OTT provider is also using new-age technology and tools to understand the viewers and has been using those insights to improve the content selection and recommendations for them. For example, it has been using marketing automation and analytics tools to understand the viewers and their viewing patterns better and find better ways to engage them. 

“We have been able to categorize people by their interest and viewing patterns and analyze the user journeys to personalize our communication with the viewers. For example, if any person lose their interest in particular point of any shows and leave that, and start showing interest in any other shows, we can probably notify him or her when the next season is added or based on the viewing pattern, we can also recommend them with similar genre of content,” explained Mohta. 

Binge-watching is a growing trend among the young users in India. Hence, it will be interesting to see how these regional OTT players targeting specific language-speaking population encash this opportunity to grow viewership and create a sustainable growth path for themselves in the future.


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