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Paid users, not downloads, matter for OTT platforms: Balaji Telefilms’ Nair

Sameer Nair, CEO, Balaji Telefilms

Sameer Nair, CEO, Balaji Telefilms

Over the past couple of years several companies have launched over-the-top (OTT) video platforms in India, including major international players such as Netflix. Television and film production company Balaji Telefilms Ltd is set to be the latest to roll out an OTT platform. To be launched by unit ALT Digital Media Entertainment Ltd by early next month, the platform called ALT will host exclusive content including web series and drama. This comes after Balaji Telefilms in February said it would raise Rs 150 crore from investors such as Atyant Capital India Fund-I and Vanderbilt University for its OTT business. In a conversation with Techcircle.in, Balaji Telefilms CEO Sameer Nair shares the company’s plans in the video OTT segment. Excerpts:

OTT platforms following a subscription-driven model find it very difficult to get enough viewers to pay for the content. Doesn’t that worry you?

Indians will pay when they get exclusive content. Other parameters which will drive viewership is that the content on the platform should be the kind that users really want to see. Essentially, they should be able to see value in the content. If these check boxes are ticked off, hopefully people will pay.

You had said that you are targeting 20 million global subscribers. So are you looking at a global launch?

The beauty of OTT is that it can be made available globally immediately. We will be at a 95% distribution reach. Unlike TV, on OTT, we will own the content. Hence, there will be no intellectual property (IP) restriction and so everyone will be able to access the content. Also, we will encourage viewers to take the content offline and watch it at a time which is convenient to them. So we will not be dependent on mobile streaming. One can download the content and watch it in a car or a plane without Internet.

When an OTT platform claims that it has got 50 million downloads, it means nothing. The real game is about how many people are consuming the content apart from how many are active users who have been paying for the content.

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