Sandeep Aggarwal of ShopClues & Droom bets big on international start-ups

Following his investments in Wydr, Shopsity, Poolmyride and AYN Network, he has now invested an undisclosed amount in Indonesian home decor marketplace, Dekoruma.com

Sandeep Aggarwal of ShopClues & Droom bets big on international start-ups

Sandeep Aggarwal, Founder – ShopClues and Droom, is firmly investing and funding as an angel investor for promising out-of-the-box ideas and disruptive start-up ventures that tackle real problems. After recently closing a funding round with the mobile-first wholesale marketplace Wydr, Aggarwal has now invested an undisclosed amount in international start-ups such as Dekoruma.com – an Indonesian furniture and home décor marketplace. Prior to Dekoruma.com, Aggarwal has made at least three more investments in international start-ups based out of Silicon Valley and SE Asia.

Dekoruma is a platform which is a shop-able magazine concept that brings beautiful products in the home and living space and ensures that it is accessible and affordable.

Aggarwal founded ShopClues in 2011, one of India’s first managed marketplaces, which became 5th Unicorn in Consumer Internet in India and Droom in 2014, one of India’s first marketplaces for automobiles. With Aggarwal at its helm, Droom is now one of the fastest growing consumer Internet companies in India.

Speaking on his investments, Aggarwal commented, “As someone who has built two Internet and mobile businesses from scratch, I understand the need for support and faith from entrepreneurs in the industry for the success of nascent ventures. We could scale both ShopClues and Droom thanks to the funding and guidance we received in our initial days. Now, I believe it is my turn to offer insights and learnings that I have acquired over the years to passionate, young entrepreneurs. I have been very impressed by the team at Dekoruma.com.”

He added, “I always look for qualities such as zeal, enthusiasm and belief in one’s idea when investing in a business. Recently, I invested in Dekoruma because I instantly saw its game-changing potential in the Southeast Asia market.”

The prolific investor gives a lot of importance to tech-driven businesses and looks for attributes like his own– high energy, passion and long-term vision. He has already invested in Shopsity, Poolmyride (a cab-sharing start-up) and AYN Network (a B2B marketplace). Aggarwal believes technology plays an extremely pivotal role in creating winning ventures, and supports founders who believe in frugality and economic effort to achieve success.

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LaLigaSportsTV: Free access to live Spanish sport with new OTT service

The service is now available via mobiles, tablets, Samsung Smart TV and screen mirroring

LaLiga

LaLiga has officially unveiled its OTT (over-the-top) service, LaLigaSportsTV, which offers fans free coverage of live Spanish sporting competitions via mobile and connected devices. This service, designed by LaLiga, will boost the visibility and exposure of all Spanish sport, with matches also to be made available internationally via a catch-up service.

Through this platform, LaLiga aims to support the development of audio-visual offerings for sports that do not receive coverage through traditional media channels and whose content distribution has been limited for fans, the company said in a statement.

LaLigaSportsTV was created with the sports fan experience in mind. This has resulted in a simple and accessible interface, featuring native applications, cloud-based HD content and the ability to customise content for both live and on-demand services.

Fans of Spanish sport living outside of Spain will be able to watch matches on demand after the live broadcast has ended, pending local rights restrictions. The LaLigaSportsTV app is available in eight languages (English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russia and Indonesian) for smartphone and tablet, while the smart TV service can be accessed in English and Spanish.

This service sees LaLiga strengthen its commitment to the sporting federations as a part of the LaLigaSports project, which was created to offer sporting federations in Spain enhanced exposure, help with their development and boost their motivation to compete.

Federations will also be able establish a new framework through which to reach their fans through the service. LaLiga is keen to assist the federations in gaining a better understanding of user consumption habits with a view to developing improved commercialisation strategies as far as audio-visual content and sponsorship are concerned.

LaLigaSportsTV is a central part of the league’s commitment to innovation and to be at the forefront of technological advances, particularly in the audio-visual field. LaLiga is the first major European league to roll out its own OTT service and offer fans a platform for niche sports. This product is the only one of its kind globally and demonstrates the leading role played by the LaLiga clubs.

The launch event for LaLigaSportsTV was attended by LaLiga President, Javier Tebas; the President of the Spanish Sports Association (ADESP), Jose Hidalgo; the Corporate Vice-President of Samsung Electronics Iberia, Celestino Garcia; the Captain of the Spanish rugby sevens team, Paco Hernandez; as well as several elite athletes from Spain including Carolina Marin, David Cal, Joana Pastrana, Jeronimo Garcia, Jose Javier Hombrados and the full Spanish rugby sevens team.

LaLigaSportsTV will now be promoted through an advertising campaign with the message 'Cuando te miran, lo das todo' (When you're being watched, you give your all), conveying that greater numbers of spectators have a direct impact on an athlete's performance levels.

At the beginning of the event a minute’s silence was observed for Marcos Garrido Beltrán, a motorcyclist who died yesterday in an accident in the Andalusia Supersport 300 championship race at the Circuito de Jerez track. LaLiga sends its deepest condolences to Marcos’ family and friends.

Talking about the service,  Javier Tebas, President of LaLiga, said, "The aim is to offer less high-profile sports greater and improved visibility via a platform where content is quickly and easily accessible, allowing fans to enjoy their favourite sport wherever, whenever and however they want."

Jose Hidalgo, President of the Spanish Sports Association (ADESP), said, "LaLigaSportsTV is a platform that will bring about a digital transformation and will offer exposure to the work carried out by each of the Spanish sporting federations."

Paco Hernandez, Captain of the Spanish Rugby Sevens team, "It makes us proud to sport the logo of a brand as prestigious and representative of Spain as LaLigaSports. Now with LaLiga's new OTT we're convinced that rugby and the rest of the sports will enjoy greater visibility, which will also help our federations when it comes to securing new sponsors."

Celestino Garcia, Corporate Vice-President of Samsung Electronics Iberia, said, "Samsung is the world's leading technology company and one which always seeks to link up with the best partners. Technology and content are increasingly related and that's why we were keen to be a part of the LaLigaSports project. It will allow our clients to access the very best in sporting content via their television sets, smartphones and tablets. We're delighted to continue to offer innovative solutions to a partner of LaLiga's standing."

 

Hungama partners with CoRover to offer its music service on IRCTC’s website & app

Through this partnership users of Ask DISHA can listen to songs & watch music videos on Hungama Music by accessing it from the chatbot

hungama

Digital entertainment company, Hungama, has partnered with CoRover to offer the users of IRCTC’s ‘Ask DISHA’ chatbot access to its music service. Through this, users of Ask DISHA can listen to songs and watch music videos on Hungama Music by accessing it from the chatbot. The service is available to the users on IRCTC’s website and app.

Developed by CoRover, an AI-enabled platform that provide safe, convenient & fun-filled travel experiences, Ask DISHA allows IRCTC users to resolve their queries in an easy, convenient and responsive manner, with Hindi support as well. Ask DISHA comes with a host of features including answering users' queries quickly. Besides this, the chatbot can provide 24x7 support to the users. CoRover’s Chabot as a Service (CaaS) is also available on IRCTC Tourism website with voice support. The availability of Hungama Music through Ask DISHA will allow the users to enjoy a vast library of multi-genre and multi-lingual content.

Speaking about the association, Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital Media said, “We are excited to allow easy access to Hungama Music to the users of Ask DISHA. Offering an enriching experience to consumers is in our DNA and our partnership with CoRover will help in making the chatbot service more wholesome. We are certain that the users will enjoy the convenience offered through this integration.”

“The partnership with Hungama will create new opportunities for our 48 million users to avail of good quality entertainment in term of music. CoRover is committed to offering value added services to enhance the overall user experience,” said Ankush Sabharwal, Founder & CEO, CoRover. 

Hungama Music has been instrumental in shaping music consumption habits in India, as well as, crafting an enriching experience for music lovers globally. Its multi-genre, multi-lingual and freemium library, original content, online radio channels and curated playlists make music streaming a fulfilling experience for users.

Hotstar VIP aimed at driving IPL viewership, say experts

The Rs 365-a-year subscription plan has an interesting price point and is expected to make things bigger and better for the OTT platform, say media analysts

Hotstar VIP

Hotstar’s new subscription plan, Hotstar VIP, is an attractive offer at an interesting price point, say industry experts. 

The plan for Rs 365 a year gives the audience the opportunity to watch new and exclusive content like those under the Hotstar Specials label, Star network serials (before television at 6am), and live sporting action, including VIVO IPL and ICC Cricket World Cup. 

Those who have already subscribed to the Rs 299 Annual Sports Plan will also get upgraded to Hotstar VIP. With the 12th season of IPL underway, this deal is expected to earn Hotstar a lot of brownie points. 

Media experts told exchange4media that Hotstar VIP could make things bigger and better for the OTT platform. Keeping in mind the T20 cricket league, the subscription plan is an attractive deal, they said.

Anand Chakravarthy, Managing Director, India, Essence, said the price point was aimed at increasing IPL consumption. “At Re 1 per day, it's a very attractive price point obviously aimed at driving consumption of IPL and other content.” 
Anita Nayyar, CEO – India & South East Asia, Havas Media Group, had a similar opinion. “It is an interesting price point, not too high at least for the discerning audiences who want to view local content before it hits TV. The inclusion of live sports (given there is a lot on Star) and Hotstar Specials at the same price point makes the same attractive.”

The promise of streaming new episodes of Star’s favourite TV shows before their telecast on TV seems like an offer to entice even those audiences who aren’t too interested in sports. It is a good deal for both kinds of audiences, said Nayyar. “I think it is a combination of both: for those who are loyalists of Star’s local content it’s one-up viewing over the others, and they also have the chance to view Originals and live matches. Audiences should come from both,” Nayyar added.

In a different take on the subscription offer, Chakravarthy said driving TV viewership was not the objective here. “It's the cheapest subscription plan that there is. Given the timing, I believe it's certainly aimed at growing IPL viewership as well. With the World Cup following IPL, driving viewership for cricket on Hotstar would be the primary objective. Possibly, the GOT final season airing this year will also be another opportunity to drive in more subs for Hotstar with this pricing,” Chakravarthy pointed out.

The reduced pricing certainly drives an increase in viewership and is a good sign for advertisers who are looking at digital investments during IPL, Chakravarthy said. 

Nayyar, too, said that IPL has been hot-selling property for Star network and for advertisers as well.
The Pay-By-Cash option has also come as a striking option. Hotstar has facilitated doorstep collection of payment within 48 to 72 hours of opting for the subscription. 

Media analysts agreed it was an interesting mode of payment but they had their reservations too. Chakravarthy said: “I would imagine that operationally it is challenging, but Star will have a plan in place. Is it relevant? Certainly. Even in e-commerce, Cash On Delivery is still a fairly dominant mode of payment. Digital payments are growing fast but given the size of our population and the large base of the ‘new to mobile internet’ population, there will be consumers who are more comfortable paying with cash than paying online. India is a market in transition where the analogue and digital worlds will co-exist for some time.” 

The doorstep payment collection is surely a convenient option, said Nayyar. “It will depend on the number of subscriptions coming in and their management but is a convenient option for sure,” she added. 

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Ipsos-WEF survey finds 62% Indians have positive views about automation

The Global Citizens & Automation Survey by WEF and Ipsos highlights ramifications of Automation on a slew of products and services and its impact on how we work

wef

Three in 5 Indians (62 per cent) view the impact of Automation positively, giving India the second rank in the pecking order among the 26 markets covered in the survey (surpassed by China, with 64% Chinese endorsing the positive impact of Automation). 

The Global Citizens & Automation Survey by WEF and Ipsos highlights ramifications of Automation on a slew of products and services and its impact on how we work.

“Automation is doing wonders as an enabler and is improving efficiencies at work, in terms of cost and time taken and is redefining how we work. Automated services minus human intervention have become a reality, with high dependence on technology. There can be roadblocks sometimes,” said Anthony D’Souza, Executive Director, Innovation, Ipsos India.  

Products and Services most positively impacted

The verdict from Indians on the most profound impact of Automation on products and services has been on a plethora of them. 69 per cent Indians approve of self-checkout/ check-in/ electronic ordering kiosks at stores, airports, restaurants etc.; 67% Indians feel internet connected appliances and home devices have had a positive impact on people’s lives; 66% approve of internet connected medical devices; 66% espouse benefits of voice recognition assistance (e.g. Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant etc.). 60% approve of customer service online chatbots; 54% are positive of drones and 52% approve of robots. 

Is Automation a Boon or a Threat?
 
Though the findings underscore the positive rub off of Automation and Indians go ballistic in espousing the benefits of Automation: 74 per cent Indians say automation has improved quality of their work; 73 per cent feel automation has made their job easier; 72 per cent Indians feel automation has transformed their work, what it was 10 years ago; 72 per cent are confident that automation will alter their jobs 10 years hence; 70 per cent Indians feel automation has made their job more interesting; 65 per cent Indians credit automation for reduced risks of injury while working.

On the flip side, across all the 26 markets polled, Indians are most wary of the negative impact of automation – 49 per cent feel that automation is putting their current employment at risk. 43 per cent Saudis and 42 per cent Chinese too seemed worried on the impact of automation. 

Training on new technology and products – how does India stack up?

59% Indians say they have received internal training or education provided by employer for new technology and products; 31% have received external training; while 10% have received none. Interestingly, internal training was reported highest in the markets of India, Peru and Canada; and external training reported most in China, Saudi Arabia, India and Brazil. The survey also probed about training for technical skills - 66% Indians confirmed that their employer provides internal training and education for technical skills, 25% said external training was provided by employer and 9% received no training.      

Music licensing goes digital in the form of ‘Public performance royalties’

‘Public performance royalties’ an important source of revenue for record labels

PPL

Digitisation and the proliferation of the internet across India has created limitless possibilities. This holds true even in the world of public performance licensing. 

‘Public performance royalties’ are the monetary compensation paid to music labels for the privilege of playing their songs publically. They are enshrined in the Copyright Act of 1957 and are a very important source of revenue for record labels. Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) monetises public performance rights by ensuring that venues and entities playing their music publically do so only after taking a licence.

Digitisation has helped PPL in collecting revenues by increasing the speed with which licences can be issued as well as in creating an atmosphere of transparency and user friendliness. 

The organisation’s latest system, called PLUS (Performance License For Usage Of Sound Recording) is an online portal that allows its executives to issue licences, and receive payments within minutes, as opposed to the older, physical system that took several weeks.

Rajat Kakar, President & CEO of PPL India said, “Perhaps one of the biggest barriers to people taking a licence, aside from ignorance of the law, was the long and arduous process of applying for one. Earlier processes proved to be a major hindrance to customers, especially those where events were time sensitive. We’re optimistic about the fact that a fast, simple, licensing process in the form of PLUS will go a long way increasing the number of businesses that take PPL Licenses.” 

Kakar adds, “According to our most recent study, fewer than 5 per cent of Indian businesses take public performance licences for the music they play, and this is simply unacceptable. Public Performance is an invaluable source of revenue for the Music Industry, which is ploughing this back into creating music across the multitude of Indian languages. PLUS is a testament of our company’s drive to take world of music licensing into the digital age.”

Hari Nair, Chief Digital Officer of PPL India said, “In the six months of implementation, PLUS has proven to be a versatile yet simple tool. We’ve already see strong measurable results in the form of reduced turn-around-time and positive customer feedback. Soon, we plan on expanding its functionality to allow prospective customers to create their own licenses i.e. a DIY (Do It Yourself) portal. This will further simplify the application process and essentially allow anyone in India with a smartphone or computer to apply for a PPL License with just the click of a button.”

Netmeds.com to acquire health tech start-up KiViHealth

KiViHealth is a clinic management platform and its "digital prescription pad" tool allows doctors to generate digital prescriptions 

netmeds

Netmeds.com has announced that it will be acquiring health-tech startup KiViHealth in a cash and stock deal. 

KiViHealth is a practice or clinic management platform and its USP is built around its unique "digital prescription pad" tool which allows doctors to generate digital prescriptions. 

Creating a prescription digitally not only rules out any possible misinterpretation of the medication or dosage, it also creates an electronic historical health records storage for the benefit of the patient as well as the physician. 

AI-based prescription management technology helps doctors diagnose similar conditions in patients and helps healthcare stakeholders analyse trends that can be used as a predictive analysis tool. 

Furthermore, the app also provides an appointment booking module and patient engagement tool along with billing and invoicing solutions and serves as an "end-to-end" clinic management solution. 

Additionally, the platform provides robust doctor-patient collaboration tools which empower the creation a fully digitized clinic. This platform uses AI, automation and visual aids to create a patient-centric digital healthcare management information system and a next generation online clinic. With over 3,100 hospitals and health centres, KiViHealth manages over 2 million patient records and provides services to more than 2,000 doctors through its website and mobile app. It was founded in 2015 by Indian School of Business Alumni, Bhanu Mahajan and Rajandeep Singh.

Speaking about the acquisition, Founder & CEO of

Netmeds.com, Pradeep Dadha said, “We continue to develop a well-rounded healthcare eco-system around Netmeds. The acquisition of KiViHealth is a shining example of an innovative, technology powered, next-generation health care application that caters to the needs of a modern-day doctor. With this acquisition,

Netmeds.com adds to the portfolio of technology driven solutions as it transforms the brand into a complete healthcare product and service company."

Speaking about the features of the app, Pradeep Dadha said, “The platform not only creates a digital patient health record repository with the 'digital prescription pad' tool, but also powers day-to-day operations such as appointment booking, invoicing and medicine inventory management. It serves as an end-to-end clinic management solution.”

KiViHealth co-founder Bhanu Mahajan said: “KiviHealth has been well-received by the medical community which has embraced this new-age doctor/patient collaboration tool.

Netmeds.com is the perfect partner to help us achieve the scale that we believe is within our grasp.”

“Being under the aegis of one of the most trusted brands in e-healthcare space will inspire a greater level of confidence, accelerate our growth and help us achieve our vision of being a universal digital healthcare management platform,” KiVi Health Co-founder Rajandeep Singh added.

Netmeds.com also acquired online video consultation app JustDoc last September venturing into healthcare services, diagnostics and consultation.

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WhatsApp launches second leg of 'Share Joy, Not Rumors' campaign

This new "Share Joy, Not Rumors" campaign will educate people on the controls available in WhatsApp so they are empowered to stop the spread of misinformation

WhatsApp Share Joy Not Rumors

As India goes to vote at the General Elections in April, WhatsApp launched its second leg of the 'Share Joy, Not Rumors' integrated education campaign to encourage the responsible use of its platform.

The first phase of the campaign successfully reached hundreds of millions of Indians including both rural and urban areas, and WhatsApp is building on the campaign with a second-round focused on supporting a safe election process. In addition to the earlier TV, print and radio ads, this new "Share Joy, Not Rumors" campaign will educate people on the controls available in WhatsApp so they are empowered to stop the spread of misinformation. The short online videos can be seen on social media platforms and are a step by step tutorial on how to exit a group, block a contact and the significance of the forwarded label. They are available on YouTube.

WhatsApp's digital literacy partners, including DEF and NASSCOM, will share these videos to grow awareness. The print ads are aimed to act as reminders on how to spot, verify and stop sharing of misinformation that can cause harmful outcomes during the sensitive period of polling.

“Proactively working with the Election Committee and local partners for a safe election is our top priority”, said Abhijit Bose, Head of India, WhatsApp. "Expanding our education campaign to help people easily identify and stop malicious messages is another step towards improving the safety of our users.”

This campaign is one part of a series of actions that need to come together to resolve the underlying societal challenges contributing to misinformation and WhatsApp remains committed to doing its part to ensure that the platform continues to be a safe and private space for personal communication.

WhatsApp has taken several steps since last year to empower its users through education, prevent abuse and partner with Civil society, government and law enforcement in order to address this complex issue. Building on efforts in these three areas is a priority that began with the first public education effort in August 2018 by running ads in print, on the radio, and working with the Digital Empowerment Foundation to reach community leaders in key states.

Soon, the first phase of the national education campaign of “Share joy, not rumors” was launched, followed by publishing a white paper that explains how WhatsApp bans accounts engaging in bulk messaging and automated behavior to stay ahead of highly-motivated abusers. Most recently, a partnership with the NASSCOM Foundation was kicked off to train college students and volunteers on digital literacy with a focus on first-time voters.

Swiggy and Hotstar bowl cricket lovers over with unique collaboration

Swiggy POP will be integrated on the Hotstar app so that viewers can order food while watching matches

SwiggyHotstar

As the cricket frenzy reaches a crescendo this March, Swiggy and Hotstar are coming together to allow consumers to order their favorite meal from Swiggy, without taking their eyes off a single ball. Swiggy POP, Swiggy’s curated single-serve meals from top restaurants across the neighborhood, will be integrated on the Hotstar App making for a pleasurable viewing as well as food ordering experience.

Commenting on this unique, first-of-its-kind integration, Srivats TS, VP Marketing at Swiggy, said, “Our collaboration with Hotstar aims to satisfy the insatiable love we Indians have for cricket and food. We believe a nail biter of a match accompanied with great food is a delicious combination to serve up this cricketing season! We are extremely pleased to present this innovation in association with Hotstar. Through this, we hope to build a deeper bond with our cricket crazy fans by offering them an uninterrupted viewing and extremely convenient food ordering experience.” 

Swiggy’s food ordering analysis from the cricketing season last year indicated an increase in online orders during the period. Considering the sporting event is all about action, suspense, drama and food, last year, Swiggy saw a 25 percent increase in order numbers during the season, compared to pre-season, with the highest number of orders received on the day of the finale, the company said in a statement.

This integration with Swiggy is part of Hotsar’s bid to provide viewers with an engaging experience for VIVO IPL 2019. With the motto of ‘Koi Yaar Nahi Far’, Hotstar is rolling out a first-ever social cricket-watching experience which will provide viewers the opportunity to invite, chat and compete with their friends and family. On the back of this, the streaming giant expects to reach over 300 million viewers, about 50 percent more than last year. For Swiggy, which has millions of users itself, this would mean an opportunity to innovatively engage with their existing customers whilst tapping newer ones as well, serving everybody their favourite dishes with absolute ease.

Some interesting food ordering trends witnessed on Swiggy last year:

  • Bangalore topped the list for pizza orders as supporters watched their team win from losing positions and vice versa
  • Though not among the qualifying four, the Kings XI was joined by their fans in their celebration with over 100 percent increase in orders for tradional Punjabi dishes like Kadai Paneer, Dal Makhni and Butter Nan in Chandigarh
  • Chennai celebrated CSK’s return by ordering Chicken and Mutton Biryani which were the most ordered items. The city also ordered a record number of fries during their team’s matches with the one team that made them feel the heat: Sunrisers Hyderabad
  • Jaipur too celebrated their team’s royal return to the tournament with a mix of Paneer Butter Masala, Kadai Paneer and Aloo Tikki Burger
  • Cheering for Mumbai, cricket fans in the city opted to settle in with Dal Khichdi, making it the highest ordered food item during the IPL in Mumbai
  • Finally, consumers in Delhi consoled themselves with a comfortable yet indulgent mix of Butter Nan and Dal Makhni

Draft e-commerce policy: Will it benefit homegrown OTT platforms?

The e-commerce policy, if implemented in its present form, may prove to be a threat to Originals from global OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, say experts

OTT

The draft e-commerce policy, if implemented in its current form, is most likely to act as a boon for homegrown OTT platforms with respect to Originals. 

According to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT)’s draft national e-commerce policy, an e-commerce platform with foreign investment cannot exercise ownership or control over the inventory sold on its platform. Thus, the e-commerce policy may prove to be a threat to Originals coming from global OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar. In the absence of Originals from these platforms, homegrown OTT players like Zee5, Voot, Alt Balaji and Hoichoi could turn out to be the direct beneficiaries of the draft policy, say experts.  

As per DPIIT’s policy, the terms ‘e-commerce’, ‘electronic-commerce’ and ‘digital economy’ can be used interchangeably as per the context. It says e-commerce includes buying, selling, marketing or distribution of goods, including digital products and services, through an electronic network. The draft also covers delivery of goods, including digital products, and services either online or through physical means.  

“Going by the definition in the draft e-commerce policy, OTT falls under e-commerce on the virtue of being a digital product in the e-commerce marketplace,” said Atul Pandey, Partner at Khaitan & Co, a law firm.

Most OTT platforms have been betting high on the Indian market and have been working towards capturing the Indian audience. Earlier this year, Hotstar announced setting aside a budget of Rs 120 crore for production of Original content, just for the Indian market. It has even tied up with big names like Salman Khan for these projects. While Netflix has already released five Originals for the Indian market and have eight more planned for this year, Amazon Prime too is going big with Originals and have an upcoming action thriller series with Akshay Kumar.

“During liberalization there were fears about Indian industries losing out to companies from the developed world. But the Indian manufacturing and services sector has actually grown in leaps and bounds after the end of the Licence Raj. The OTT industry is facing a similar scenario. E-commerce policies should not stop foreign players from running originals. There should be level playing field so that consumers are able to get the best of content and the players thrive in a clear competitive environment. Only then will the Indian OTT platforms be forced to become world-class if they want to survive,” said an insider.

Vishnu Mohta, Co-founder of regional OTT platform Hoichoi, agreed competition, in any form, was good for the industry. “There might be a slight advantage if global players do not show Originals.” 

“We are in a nascent stage and the OTT eco-system needs to grow in many folds. People should have more options to get hooked on to this platform,” Mohta added.

Meanwhile, Atul Pandey shed some light on how global OTT players could still co-exist in the Indian market. “If at all the draft e-commerce policy is implemented there can be ways by which Originals by global players can still exist on their platforms. These platforms can work with producers and become mere broadcasters of the shows,” Pandey added.

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Content is king & queen for Abundantia Entertainment: Vikram Malhotra

Malhotra, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Abundantia Entertainment, talks about the firm's growth as an independent motion pictures studio and how it plans to stand out amidst the clutter

by Anjali Thakur
Published - 1 day ago
vikram

The OTT space in India is booming with new web series and Original movies, but at the same time turning into a cluttered space. Vikram Malhotra, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Abundantia Entertainment Private Limited, an independent motion pictures studio, spoke about how they plan to stand out in the crowd.

Malhotra, who has been associated with Balaji Telefilms and Viacom18 Motion Pictures, established Abundantia Entertainment in 2013 with focus on progressive content. The company recently roped in Akshay Kumar for a show currently titled ‘The End’. 
 

Excerpts:
 

Tell us about the growth of Abundantia in the digital space, first with the 2018 hit series ‘Breathe’ on Amazon Prime Video and now another bigger show in the making with Amazon itself?
We created this company with two building blocks: listen to the audience and look out for talented storytellers. This is a completely different ecosystem from the film word. We started with learning about the industry and partnering with like-minded people. As a result, season 2 of ‘Breathe’ is bigger, not just in terms of the budget, but also the ambition and storytelling. ‘The End’ and ‘The Men Who Killed Gandhi’ are the other Originals now in development in Abundantia, which runs as an independent division within the company.  

 

What is the focus of Abundantia Entertainment?
We will continue building on the journey that we’ve had. We were among the first movers and in many ways the pioneer in the premium digital and long-form content space. Our focus is to continue building on that, enabling talented and young storytellers. 2019-20 is very important for us. A lot of work, which is being developed for the last 2 years, will get into production and reach the audience. For us, this year is about working harder than ever before.

 

With ‘The End’, Akshay Kumar has also moved into the web space, recognising the upward trend of digital consumption and popularity of the medium. What kind of response are you expecting from the audience?
At this stage, we are not burdening or labelling ourselves with any form of expectations. We will treat it the way we treat all our other shows. We want to tell an extremely compelling story, a story that would entertain all. Our aspiration is to create a story with a global appeal, but anchored in strong human emotions and in a uniquely Indian form of storytelling.

 

Tell us why Abundatia is investing so heavily in the OTT space? What are the technical aspects and what is the business for the OTT space?
For us, investing means investing of resources and not just financial investing. We are a company that leverages our intellectual capital and not necessarily only the financial capital. For us, investing means putting out our best talent, putting our time and energy in nurturing this talent and getting them to tell the best stories because this is the way of the future. Technology is now in the hands of consumers. We have been fortunate to be at the forefront of this kind of revolution in India.

 

You have recently introduced two new verticals to the firm, Psych and Filters. Can you throw some lights on these two?
Abundantia has always been at the forefront of reading consumer insights and supporting progressive and non-conventional story-telling.  Psych caters to content in the horror genre, which is finding a growing market in India. Filters will concentrate on the booming ‘global young adults’ audience segment, with stories that talk to viewers in their language. Horror and Young Adults are two segments that have a globally seamless audience base. We hope to create innovative and engaging platform-agnostic content in these verticals that will connect with audiences worldwide. At the same time, our team is hard at work to continue telling compelling stories to the mainstream audience through a strong slate of feature films and shows.

 

With so many web series and OTT platforms in the business, how do you plan to stand out from the clutter? 
It is an extremely cluttered space for web series in India right now. There is nothing better than delivering quality stories. At Abundantia, our attempt has never been to be different just for the sake of being so.  For us, the quality and nature of the story and how it would resonate with our audience is going to be the differentiator and that’s what we aspire. Content is king and queen and this is the time for us to understand that anything sub-standard, any content that does not deliver value for money or time for the audience will be rejected outright.

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