In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Sameer Nair, Group CEO of Balaji Telefilms, said there are no plans to shut down its film production business although Balaji has made it "a little leaner."
Nair also spoke about technical trials that are currently underway for its app - ALT and TV business that is picking up.
Below is the verbatim transcript of Sameer Nair's interview to Surabhi Upadhyay & Prashant Nair.
Surabhi: The company's platform has been due for commercial operations, so if you could start by giving us some update on what exactly is happening with this platform?
A: We have commenced our tech trials, so currently we are in a tech trial mode where the app is live and we are testing the technology to see whether it works well and all the various features are functioning well across devices, across platforms, across geographies. So, that is currently going on.
The commercial launch happens on April 15 which is when we put all our original content out there and then start full blown marketing and everything. So, that is the sort of timeline for it ALT.
Surabhi: Can you give us some sense of some revenue projections from ALT? How much are you hoping to clock in FY18, some kind of targets if you can share with us?
A: I am not in a position to give exact numbers but FY18 will be the first full year of commercial operations of ALT where we will put out 32 original shows and all the content that comes with that and we will be marketing actively in India and abroad. We have done a whole range of distribution tie-ups with partners like Micromax, Airtel, Paytm, we are talking to all these people for different kinds of tie-ups and bundling deals.
We are also doing a lot of consumer marketing to put content and get people to sample the content. We are talking to Facebook, we are talking to YouTube. So, there is a lot of activity around it. So, first year, FY18 will be the first full year of the commercial operation of ALT.
Prashant: What is the plan for the movie business, the production business? It has been a drag for a while. There has been a fair bit of talk about what you plan to do with it. Could you shed some light on the same?
A: Actually, not a plan to shutdown the movie business. However, we have made it considerably leaner. We are actually sort of also merging the production part of the business back into the parent creative business - that leaves only a separate distribution arm and that continues.
I do not think we will stop, shutdown the movie business in that sense, but we are taking a highly conservative view to the business, to the projects that we are doing to how we are doing it. We are actively seeking financial and strategic partners for the various projects in our pipeline. So, we are taking all those kind of concerns because yes, the movie business has had an adverse impact on our profitability all these years and we want to fix that.
Prashant: In terms of television shows, what is the pipeline looking like?
A: Now we have got shows across Star, Zee and Colors. There is a new show coming on to Colors in May. Box Cricket League (BCL) will come back on Colors in June after Indian Premier League (IPL). We have won three slots on Doordarshan in Prime Time. So, that should hopefully start by April or May depending on what start date Doordarshan gives us. Beyond that, there is a new show on the anvil for Zee, but that is in the works yet. So, there is quite a lot of TV business that is coming up.