Hotstar's game is about quality, not quantity: Gaurav Banerjee, Star India

Gaurav Banerjee, President and Head, Hindi Entertainment, Star India shares more on Hotstar Specials, the viewership and expanding on the language front

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Feb 26, 2020 4:54 PM
Gaurav Banerjee

Hotstar launched its first web series of 2020 with ‘Special Ops’ under Hotstar Specials. Based on the 2001 Parliament attack, the show will premier on March 17. It will be released in seven Indian languages, including Hindi, Marathi and Bengali.

Speaking about its first original of 2020, Gaurav Banerjee, President and Head, Hindi Entertainment, Star India, said Hotstar deeply admired the work that Neeraj Pandey had done in the world of cinema, and we felt his kind of cinema would be great to do on digital and work very well for our audiences. So I think that's how the green lighting happens. We worry about what terrorism can do to the psyche of our country. The impact that it has on people's lives is still huge.”

Hotstar Specials was announced 13 months back with the launch of its first web series ‘Roar of the Lion’. Speaking about the one-year journey, Banerjee said, “This is our seventh launch, we're in that phase where we are learning every day, trying to figure out how this medium sort of changed storytelling? How do you base an episode? How do you market it?”

“At Hotstar, we wanted the platform to be the canvas for India's biggest stories and that was a lofty ambition. We feel that I think we have started out well, because of two reasons - firstly, that a lot of our shows have been across a very wide spectrum and people have liked that. This is a platform where people can see a sports documentary, or a crime thriller, sitcom or a spy thriller. These elements got us off to a really strong start. Secondly, we've very engrossing stories on Hotstar. This is an awesome opportunity, great roles being written and actors doing a great job.”

On the viewership front for Hotstar Specials, Banerjee informed that people were spending a little bit more time on watching original content. It's the same audience that watches TV content to some extent and it's also a new audience that is coming in. We have not seen the watch time going down. “The viewership is coming from all the markets. In the beginning, it was obviously a bit more skewed towards the bigger urban cities and a slightly younger part of the country. But I think over a period of time, we've seen that it's all across, it’s massive and across age groups.”

He also informed that Hotstar has an interesting and exciting slate for 2020. “This is the first of those that we are launching today. But there are hundreds of ideas and various stages of development that the entire team is working on them. We will be talking about more shows at the right time. We see a big opportunity in many different Indian languages. We hope to have something there that the viewers would be excited about.”

“It's not a quantity game for us. I will not tell you how many shows we are launching, I will not be able to tell you, what's the strength of our library. I will not tell you at what frequency we're going to launch. That's not the game we're playing. Our game is about quality and our shows are not there to build some library. They're there because of their exciting stories,” Banerjee said as he signed off.

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