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"Compared to TV, economics of digital is bound to improve"

02-April-2018
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"Compared to TV, economics of digital is bound to improve"

Popular Indian Content platform Arré has completed two years in the OTT space. Arré offers original content creations across video, audio, text and doodles in various genres such as fiction, entertainment and documentaries. The platform has explored every form of content to grab the audience’s attention with what appeals to them.

In the last two years, some of their video shows and documentaries were widely accepted by the viewers.

In a conversation with exchange4media, Ajay Chacko, CEO of Arré, dwells on the company strategy, a shift in the OTT space and how digital is competing with TV these days.

Excerpts:

With Arré, how did the content resonate with the mobile-first audience?

Mobile first is now a clichéd and old term. Our content is accessed primarily on the mobile. The premium entertainment audiences now switch between screens quite effortlessly. This means that the focus is not just on the medium of consumption but great quality original storytelling, which is what Arré is focusing on. Most of our shows are now entering their second or third seasons and we have done it within two years of existence. That’s a good reassurance from both audiences and advertisers.

Original content is the key differentiator for any OTT platform. What are the thought processes that go behind making your shows and how are you creating a niche market for yourself?

Original content, we believe, is the holy grail of digital media in India. We have seen a re-hash of content created for other media being used as a ‘library’ for the consumer to access. It is important to note that what works for a community-based medium like television and what works for an individual who’s watching on his or her own private screen, is quite different. The storytelling, the idiom, the fictionalization and realism, all need to be different. We have been focusing only on ‘Original Content,’ across genres and the basic filter is context. Context is what makes us relevant while retaining an edgy and young voice. We believe that original content is going to fuel the new wave of growth for video in India.

Advertisers are showing a lot of interest in the OTT space. How would you compare the ad revenue and ROI in OTT to that of TV?

The economics of advertising and ROI etc, always follow the growth of audiences. We are now very close, as an Industry, to an inflexion point in terms of numbers and quality of viewers. Both TV and digital will co-exist for a while but the economics of digital is bound to improve.

From an ROI perspective, the digital media is increasingly looked at for better targeting of audiences, deeper engagement and interesting content-led communication objectives of brands.

What are your views on a subscription-based model? Are you looking to partner with any service provider?

We believe that in India, there will be a mix of advertising-driven and subscription-driven models in the digital media business. What percentage will be subscription and advertising will get determined in the coming years. But India has traditionally been an advertising-driven market even when it comes to mainstream entertainment.

It has taken a very long time for the TV market in India to go pay and broadcasters are now distribution positive (net of carriage costs.) Perhaps, digital will eventually follow the television trajectory and sooner. As original content creators, we only benefit from consumer revenues; either directly on our own platform or indirectly through partnerships with other OTT pay platforms (VOD platforms, Telco’s etc.)

How do you see yourself when compared to global rivals like Netflix and Amazon Prime?

We see ourselves as an ‘Original Content’ brand first and a platform later. We are quite complementary when it comes to domestic and international OTT players because our focus remains to create original content whether with brands (branded content) or in partnership with these OTT platforms (co-creation model) who are actively looking to partner on ‘Originals’ for their respective platforms.

Along with Original Series, do you see films releasing simultaneously in theatres and OTT platforms?

Yes, there will be ‘made for OTT/ digital’ films as well as the big blockbusters, both finding place on digital. Cinema Theatres, the world over, are now seeing a shift to primarily the super-hero films. This has already started with south Indian films and it’s going to happen even with Hindi cinema.

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