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For 2021, We Aim To Build Up Our Library To Upto 100 Originals: Ekta Kapoor
Kapoor divulges the changes that will shape the future of all verticals of her business, especially the streaming platform ALTBalaji.
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Ekta Kapoor, Joint Managing Director, Balaji Telefilms, shares her views with BW Businessworld on the “roller-coaster ride” that 2020 has been. She talks about the learning, the challenges before the entertainment industry and of overcoming them. Kapoor divulges the changes that will shape the future of all verticals of her business, especially the streaming platform ALTBalaji.
The year 2020 has become a year to remember for nearly all industries, both globally and in India. How was the year for you?
The year 2020 has been a roller-coaster ride, personally and professionally. As one of the leading home-grown streaming platforms, an unprecedented situation such as this put us at ALTBalaji on an instant alert mode. From the initial days of the lockdown, we displayed a high sense of proactiveness and foresight in each of our endeavours and strategies.
While consumer engagement, subscriptions and watch time escalated substantially this year, one of the major content consumption trends that we witnessed was the digital adaptation from rural India, in terms of entertainment consumption. With an average daily subscriber addition of 9,000 in the second quarter (Q2) of FY21, increase in watch time, and engagement per consumer, ALTBalaji witnessed an incredible jump in viewership from Bharat. We also witnessed an uptake in the international subscriptions along with a significant jump in watch-time in Q2 FY21, compared to Q2 FY20.
What did the pandemic do to the media and entertainment space?
The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, however disruptive and deadly, acted as a catalyst in transforming and accelerating the digitisation of content worldwide. It further advanced the evolving consumption habits of the always-online-viewer by converting fence-sitters into subscribers. It further fuelled the demand for quality content that is innovative, relatable and captivating, thereby allowing creators to explore and experiment with varied forms and formats. This change is bound to create a larger audience pool for originals, movies, music, games or sports across the category.
As you mention, the year saw accelerated digital adoption, where OTT players, including ALTBalaji, gained ground. How did you change your play to fit the challenges of the year, and how do you intend to ensure that you build on this momentum in the time to come?
In the first six months of the lockdown, we focused on content production by putting out projects that were already shot. Rest of the months we created projects based on evolving tastes and preferences, catering to inclusive family viewing and individual screen time for the viewers. We do realise that the growth comes from reaching out to the masses spread across the length and breadth of the country, and massification of content has been ALTBalaji’s goal from the beginning. For which, we will further lay impetus towards expanding our language content library.
At present, we have one of the largest Hindi originals content libraries with 68 plus originals across genres like thrillers, drama, romance, youth drama, horror, comedy, etc. that cater to diverse segments of the audience. We have also created an efficient business model to manage costs much below what the market spends today while continuing to reign as a leader in the number of original show launches. And for 2021, we aim to build up our library to up to 100 originals.
The Indian media industry is in troubled waters this year with a large part of revenue having been washed off. Some argue that there have been silver linings too. What are your views? While the business faced many challenges,
he phase did boost the consumption of digital content while opening new avenues as well. With deeper engagement on our library shows, the anticipation for upcoming seasons has increased multi-fold. We witnessed an audience going beyond their conventional content consumption patterns, and that has given us the opportunity to extend our boundaries as well.
Coming to consumer behaviour change, given the big-ticket launches that began happening on OTT, do you think production houses will need to revisit the release strategy for different screens?
Theatres and OTT platforms are two completely different mediums of entertainment and will continue to co-exist in the future as well. That said, these unprecedented times have seen an influx of consumer-centric trends that have enabled audiences with a chance to watch the latest releases from the comfort of their homes. Once things get back to normal, I think people would like to indulge in the theatrical experience again.
What goals have you set aside for 2021?
The year has taught me to value our close ones. At the work front, we have always believed in prioritising our teams. Be it any platform of television, big screen or digital massification of content has been our primary goal from the beginning and that shall see us lay further impetus towards the same. On ALTBalaji’s front, we will focus on building a content catalogue that serves inclusive and individualistic viewing, for which, we have ramped our production machinery to create at least 40 shows a year. We have also created a model to manage costs at less than a third of what the market spends today while continuing to reign as a leader in the number of original show launches.