Video streaming platforms are leaving no stone unturned to grab viewers’ attention. They are not just aggressively acquiring content, but also creating new content despite the challenges related to COVID-19.
Take the example of Bengali video OTT (over the top) service Hoichoi, which is also the largest digital Bengali content platform. Hoichoi recently launched a new show called Case Jaundice, that's been entirely shot and directed at home.
The 10-episode series with episodes of 50 minutes each is a court drama that has a funny take on the coronavirus situation.
“There are three prominent actors, including Parambrata Chhattopadhyay of Kahaani fame. We asked them to shoot in their houses,” said Vishnu Mohta, co-founder, Hoichoi.
Along with Case Jaundice, the platform offered seven digital movie premiers during the beginning of the lockdown period. The movies aired on the platform before TV.
Dwitiyo Purush is among the seven new films that is on offer on the OTT. The film, which released on January 23 in theatres, has emerged as one of the biggest Bengali films of the year. The film garnered strong revenue at the box office and added around Rs 4 crore in three weeks of its release in theatres. Made at a shoestring budget in only 12 days, the film is 2020’s Bengali blockbuster.
Along with films, Hoichoi is also gearing up for producing new shows as West Bengal government has announced relaxation in shooting of films and TV serials. Last week the state government announced that film and TV shoots can resume work from May 21.
“We are trying to do shoots with limited spaces or probably within a bungalow with smaller unit of people. We are trying to do a couple of more shows like that (Case Jaundice) which we are planning to release in June,” he said.
Hoichoi seeing uptick in consumption, customer acquisition
With new and exclusive content on offer, Hoichoi has seen significant jump in traffic in the lockdown period.
While Mohta did not divulge exact numbers, he said that traffic is surging two to three times on a daily basis. “From consumption to customer acquisition, everything is up by two-fold to five-fold,” he said.
Paid subscription on the platform has seen a 5x growth.
The increase in the engagement on the platform does not come as a surprise as regional content has been driving OTT consumption in India.
And when it comes to Bengali language, reports suggests that per capita data consumption in West Bengal and Bihar is higher than that of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Plus, increasing number of Indians are preferring content in their own language.
This is why it doesn't come as a surprise that platforms like Zee5, SonyLiv, Hotstar also started offering Bengali content.
However, when it comes to a dedicated regional language OTT service Hoichoi is the biggest followed by Addatimes that had also started in the same year as Hoichoi in 2017.
Mohta pointed out that Bengali is spoken by 300 million people globally and for Hoichoi along with India the big markets include Bangladesh, the UK, the US and even Middle East, Australia and Canada. In fact, after the launch of Dwitiyo Purush, international traffic on Hoichoi grew significantly.
Along with content, Hoichoi is also experimenting with technology. How?
“We are offering full app experience on the browser through Progressive Web App (PWA). This enables website especially on mobile to behave like an application. It doesn’t use up space on your phone and also eliminates the need to update the app on the phone because a website is always updated,” he explained.
Not dependent on advertising
Along with content and technology, there is one more aspect especially in the current times that is helping Hoichoi and that is being a subscription video on-demand (SVoD) platform.
Unlike advertising video on-demand (AVoD) platform, SVoDs are not dependent on advertising which has been hit hard due to the pandemic.
Experts say that while paid subscribers are less in India, things are changing in the current times as entertainment options are limited due to lockdown and more people are spending time on video OTTs.
In fact, a recent study released by Disney+Hotstar says that India’s online video market will touch USD 4 billion by 2025 and over USD 1.5 billion will come from subscription revenues.
“What the lockdown has done is that the addressable market has grown two to three-fold in this period. People who otherwise would have taken two to three years to come to digital, the current situation has fast tracked the digital video consumption. And this is a business of habits and the habit building has taken place in this period,” said Mohta.