Competition is welcome and healthy in the OTT space: Vishnu Mohta, Hoichoi
Vishnu Mohta, Co-founder of Hoichoi, talks about the app, how it recently went bi-lingual and is looking forward to more exciting days ahead
Within a year of its launch, it has streamed over 240 million minutes of content. Towards the end of last year, it had secured its place among the top 10 grossing entertainment apps on the iOS platform, in India where the audience had subscribed to the app after downloading it, through the iTunes payment ecosystem. Hoichoi is perhaps the largest digital content platform exclusively for Bengalis. According to Co-Founder, Vishnu Mohta the platform enjoys a first movers’ advantage for being the first dedicated regional language OTT platform.
You are the first dedicated regional language OTT service in India Originals, what kind of first movers’ advantage do you enjoy? Tell us about your user base.
Hoichoi was launched with a mission of reaching out to the 250+ million Bengali’s residing worldwide. When the paradigm shift of delivering video content through the Internet came along we took it up because we already had a huge content base from the films we produce and we had the capacity to create new ones for the medium specifically. The thought worked and we enjoyed the first movers’ advantage in terms of getting a good head start and playing a wide role in shaping the industry. The slight disadvantage in the situation is that we also had to create the demand for it so that more players realized the potential of the medium and more users value it. We have more than a million downloads and while we have new subscribers every day, our subscribers spend close to 60 mins on the platform every day visit the app 2-3 times every day.
Define competition for Hoichoi. Are you competing with the likes of Zee5 and Alt Balaji or Netflix? Are users different for each of the platforms?
The advantage of content is one is very different from the other and one cannot be compared to the other. People have different tastes and choices when it comes to content consumption and they look for options that can provide them with the same. For OTT players competition is healthy. All the players in the sector are striving together to create more awareness and more viewers. More players equal more supply and more options for viewers which is good for an industry that is in a nascent stage. Having said that, each of us is working to make our own product the best.
Being a regional app our only barrier was that we were language specific but we’ve overcome that and now we are a bilingual platform. Alongside Bengali, a user can completely change the interface to English and enjoy the content.
Tell us about the content category that works for OTT. We know going bold is the flavor of the season. Does Hoichoi subscribe to the view?
OTT as a medium has got a lot of creative freedom and content makers get to deal with the kind of content that is generally not aired on television or run in theatres. From thriller to horror to bold content, OTT viewers have a taste for all of it. The OTT viewers are very experimental and receptive.
Tell us a little about brand associations. What is the arrangement with the brands in terms of association?
We do believe in brand associations and we work with plenty of them. We work with almost all the brands that exist in the business ecosystem. We work in a manner that we are transacting and benefiting from each other.
You have some innovations around your subscription model. Tell us about it.
We do have our monthly, quarterly, yearly subscription offers available on our platform. Other than that with almost 40% of our audience coming from non-urban areas, we decided to emulate the successful telecom model and introduce Hoichoi Top-Up cards to make it convenient for our customers to subscribe to Hoichoi. This offline payment mechanism is never heard of before in the OTT industry and will help us reach the masses in Tier II and Tier III cities. One can simply purchase the Hoichoi Top Up Cards available for subscribing to our 3 months, 6 months and 12 months plans from the nearest retailer and access the largest collection of the best in Bengali entertainment on Hoichoi without having to do any online financial transaction.
Digital marketing is the key to success for any brand at the moment. Does it work for you too?
Our content is the key compelling factor in our marketing strategies. For anything related to content, word of mouth is still the best way to market. We believe in it through and through. That apart there are always the usual tools which are a mixed bag of Digital, TV, Print, and Outdoors.
What’s next for Hoichoi?
Hoichoi wants to cater to the 250 million plus Bengalis living worldwide and expanding our footprint into Bangladesh and the Middle East is an important step in that direction. These are markets with a potential of more than 180 million customers. While expansion into Bangladesh through local payment gateways is a natural decision to reach a wider audience, entry into the Middle East is aimed at connecting with the huge migrant Bengali population living in the Arabian Peninsula nation. “Dhaka Metro” was our first web series for the Bangladesh audience, which was Amitabh Reza Chaudhuri - Bangladesh’s award-winning director. Our next Bangladeshi product is Money Honey - A Bangladesh Original with their talent on board, this crime-thriller series is based on a true event that occurred in Dhaka five years ago. We are aiming for an Eid release with this one.
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