When it comes to sports content on television, it’s mostly restricted to cricket and soccer barring the Olympics which is held once every four years and sparse showcase of badminton, F1 and tennis. Though this scenario looks unlikely to change soon, India’s OTT platform is geared up for a new player dedicated to sports called Veqta in the coming fortnight.
Found by Varun Mathur and Vikram Tanwar in mid-February, Veqta aims to redefine how sports are consumed in India. ‘By delivering the most engaging experience to sports fan, we want to make Veqta, the home of sport,” says Tanwar, Co-founder and Director, Veqta.
According to him, sports fans in India are under served by the volume and quality of sports content that is available. “There is a lack of both depth (within a sport) and width (the number and diversity of sports) of sports content,” Tanwar explains the need to launch an OTT especially for this beat.
While the founders started working on it since February, their product has already raised $500,000 in seed round funding from early stage venture capital firm Chatsworth Management and ITW Consulting. “The funds will be used to further expand our rights portfolio, build our team, invest further in product development and grow our consumer reach,” Tanwar shares.
Like most others, Veqta will follow freemium model with large amount of free content and selected premium content on subscription-basis. The co-founder adds, “This freemium model will be a combination of selected premium content behind a paywall (SVoD - Subscription Video on demand) and free content (AVoD - Advertising Video on Demand), which will help us reach the maximum number of viewers while also being able to offer the highest quality sports content.”
Around 60-65 per cent has been invested on content acquisition and development with the founders partnering up with leading international and domestic sports players, clubs and federations across football, mixed martial arts, golf and tennis. Tanwar offers, “Our content is a unique mix of original content created at our own studios (like previews, reviews and analysis) and what is sourced from our global partners who are some of the biggest names in the business. Content on our network will include cricket, football, action sports, motorsports, basketball, tennis, badminton and a wide range of Olympic sports. Most of it is currently not offered in the country.”
Content gets a special mention here since rights’ acquisition is expensive in sports. “Apart from this, the consumer reach in OTT is still at its early stage,” says Tanwar listing out the challenges they have faced so far. But the duo is still confident about revenue generation. “The bulk of the initial revenue will come from a combination of advertising, sponsorship, and subscription revenue. We are confident that our subscription model will help us break-even relatively early in our growth phase,” he offers.
When it comes to reach, Tanwar and Mathur are expecting 20 million through Veqta and 80 million through the public platforms like YouTube and social media in the first year.
Veqta might be the first OTT digital broadcast network dedicated to sports but other players are following suit. Discovery is considering an OTT launch after pan-India 4G rollout. Star India is planning to launch a sports subscription service on its over-the-top (OTT) platform Hotstar. Neo Sports is looking to roll out its service this year. But Tanwar is unfazed by the competition and believes Veqta cuts above the rest. “Majority of the content available on sports OTT platforms is the same as that which is already available on the television, with the focus on serving a second screen. Our focus is on serving content that is currently not offered in India and is specifically designed keeping in mind the viewing habits and patterns of today's sports fans,” he signs off.