New tariff order hasn’t taken away our subscribers: Carter Pilcher, ShortsTV

Pilcher, Chief Executive, ShortsTV, talks about Indians' love for Tata Sky ShortsTV and how opting for Tata Sky was the best way to introduce the channel in the country

e4m by Moumita Bhattacharjee
Updated: Mar 7, 2019 8:45 AM

The new tariff order has not taken consumers away from Tata Sky ShortsTV,  says Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive, ShortsTV.  Tata Sky and ShortsTV introduced to India the world's first and only 24/7 TV channel dedicated to short films last November. Tata Sky ShortsTV, which has been billed at Rs 75 per month on TV through STB, was expected to face a few challenges due to the new tariff order but Pilcher said there has been no change in consumer behaviour. 

In a chat with exchange4media, Pilcher spoke about Indians’ love for ShortsTV, his association with Tata Sky and much more.

Edited excerpts:

ShortsTV was launched in November last year. What have you learnt in terms of the reaction of Indian viewers towards a 24/7 channel screening short films? 
The headline is Indians love the channel. We had a very steady growth. In the first month itself, we hit 50,000 subscribers. We are now beyond that. Everybody has been concerned about the tariff challenges that all channels in India are facing. We actually had a steady growth throughout that period. So our learning is: India likes Shorts as much as anyone else in the world. 

But India also loves long feature films at the theatres...
We generally have two audiences. So we have those whom we call film aficionados - people who really know films and understand international filmmaking of shorts. These people are often educated and cultured - the aspirational kind of viewers. And then we have this other group who are not always on TV but are surely online on their smartphones. Everybody turned to watch short movies, even though they never thought they would. They have 20 minutes, while riding a bus or travelling to some place, to watch a movie and that's fantastic! So we started to get an audience that is everybody, especially the young crowd. 

Why did you opt for Tata Sky and not a broadcaster? 
We are a broadcaster and we have an exclusive deal with Tata Sky this year. This is the best way to introduce ShortsTV, the way HBO was introduced to India. As you know, just turning something on and having an hour show on a broadcaster is not the same thing. It's much more enjoyable to come into the world of short films and watch them as long as you want. We are very excited that Tata Sky shares our vision. We are creating a 'safe' space for short film watch.... just a safe space from the boring feature films. In India, people love watching shorts which is so amazing and also shocking and outrageous. 

Did you find Indians taking to Shorts in a big way shocking? 
It's fantastic. It must be the right time. A short documentary about India, Period. End of a Sentence’, won an Oscar. We released it in the theatres as a part of our Oscar shorts at PVR cinemas. So India is the right place. 

Did the new tariff order affect the subscriber base of the channel?
It actually has not. We are seeing a growth rate. Nothing is changing. We thought people will be leaving and we might have to start building again...we haven't seen any of that. It's doing pretty well because we provide a very high quality viewing experience for our viewers. We have just come out of the Oscar season on TV and we're launching this Saturday, the premiere of Royal Stag Large Short Films. In India, we have licensed the entire catalogue and we are putting it all on TV. It has never been on Television before. 

Will your content be exclusive to Tata Sky or do you intend to get into similar deals with other DTH service providers? 
This year, we have done a deal exclusively with Tata Sky. We are looking to establish ShortsTV as a brand and the idea of short films in people's minds. Everyone is talking to us and we are looking at all of our options with each one of them.

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