Pay per view is a tough model not just in India but everywhere: Kranti Gada

The COO of Shemaroo Entertainment on the launch of ShemarooMe Box Office, the big four broadcasters coming back on FTA space & the partnership with Jio TV

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Aug 12, 2020 11:38 AM
Kranti Gada

Launched in 2019, ShemarooMe, the OTT offering from Shemaroo Entertainment, has been consistent in adding multiple offerings to its platform with the latest being ShemarooMe Box Office.

The platform working on the pay-per-view model gives cinema curators and producers an opportunity to unlock the true value for their films by offering them access to digital avenues. Under this business model, Shemaroo is marketing films to a wider audience base and building awareness about the new releases. This will further assist film producers to unlock newer monetization opportunities for the films as well.

Post the viewing window on ShemarooMe, these films can be offered to satellite, SVoD and other syndication avenues as well. 

In a conversation with exchange4media, Kranti Gada, COO, Shemaroo Entertainment, spoke about the launch of the latest offering - ShemarooMe Box office, the big four broadcasters coming back on the FTA space and the partnership with Jio TV. 

What led to the launch of ShemarooMe Box Office, the pay per view offering, while other OTT platforms are providing digital premier with its existing subscription pack? 

There were two-three things which led to the launch of ShemarooMe Box Office. Firstly, during lockdown consumption increased on digital and consumers wanted to watch more content. Secondly, there was a break on the theatrical releases - one of the ways in which consumers get its dose of movies by going to the movie theatre, the whole excitement around the next  release, having that experience which was missing during this time. Thirdly, a lot of production went on hold both for television or new movies. It's a rare situation where it's a paradox. The consumer has a lot of time but he's not able to watch new movies or enjoy the thrill of watching a new film. 

From the industry point of view, a lot of producers’ money invested in producing films was stuck on exploitation because the theatrical window is the first point of exploitation for any film. 

During that period the whole buzz and marketing machinery that kicks into place gives a film a platform to go into other modes of distribution - SVOD or TVOD in digital and broadcasting.

We found that a maximum number of producers were left high and dry. 

The unique thing about our model is that it's a platform and anybody can approach us and we will help in getting the film released. It gives a level playing field to any producer who wants to release the film. We also deploy a lot of marketing around the film right from television publicity across channels, getting the music promoted to doing the reviews through different publications. We are unlocking the monetization of the film as the producer can later sell the film to TV or any other SVOD platform.  

We're trying as much as possible to replicate the theatrical experience from the consumer point of view. The consumer doesn't have to commit a very high amount of money or an annual pack. He doesn’t have to subscribe to ShemarooMe. He can just pick a film, buy a ticket from a bookmyshow, watch a film and move out. 

 Do you think a pay per view model will work in India? 

Pay per view is definitely a tough model anywhere not just in India. That said, I will say that in the current period a lot of innovation has happened. Even if the audience may not be fully ready at this point but if I want to choose a time this was the right point for us to launch this offering because there is a severe demand. There's a gap in the content supply and consumers are trying to experiment and find new ways to entertain. Also, this is a time when money has moved from a lot of other entertainment options. Today's consumer is not going out and he has some spare money at hand towards entertainment. 

What are your key markets or target audiences? How was the response for the first film in terms of numbers?  

The willingness or a propensity to pay for entertainment is the one layer that we are using. And then that genre of the movie would be the second layer to target. In terms of pricing we are trying to keep it as uniform as possible. Currently, it is priced at Rs 79 per film but we are flexible and can change depending on the demand. 

Numbers at this stage are too early for me to go public with but I'm positively happy and delighted with the kind of response that we've got. I do hope that we increase the traction going forward as people experience and enjoy it. We hope to increase it from here, but it's a good beginning. Right now we have five movies lined up and we are talking to around 8-10 producers. It is completely going to be supply led in terms of producers willing to come on board. 

Is it going to be a long term offering on ShemarooMe? Will we see any big star cast-led release on the platform?

We do see that eventually. This could become an opportunity for smaller films because such films get very small theatrical windows and few screens. Many a time they struggle for the date and time.  If we're able to generate enough traction it could become a platform for smaller films to consider for a release or a simultaneous release. 

We find that bigger films or bigger players may find it difficult to take this kind of risk. They are selling digital rights at prices which cover those theatrical collection risks but we hope that there will be some courageous producers who are willing to take this risk. At this point of time we don’t have any big budget film coming in. I would appeal from Shemaroo to the entire movie industry to come out on a platform where they can truly test whether it's working for them or not. 

Shemaroo launched two TV channels since December last year. How has the channel performed in these three months - both in terms of viewership and revenue?  

We launched our first TV channel in December - Shemaroo MarathiBana and on May 1 we launched Shemaroo TV - free to air (FTA) Hindi GEC. For MarathiBana the viewership grew very quickly and within three months, it was almost in the top five and continues to remain there.

For Shemaroo TV, the channel was launched in a period where, again, viewers were at home, there was a lot of viewing happening and  people were open to sampling new things, which they have not experienced earlier. From a sampling point of view, it was a great time for us to launch and especially at a time when the GECs were not putting out new content, so consumers were more open to sampling. Both the channels were received well. Shemaroo TV obviously being a GEC with repeat content has a tough and long journey ahead. 

How much has the comeback of FTA channels from big broadcasters impacted Shemaroo TV’s viewership?

The four GECs in FTA have definitely taken a very high viewership share. I cannot deny that, the viewership data speaks for itself. These channels have huge content banks, and they're also very well-known brands. However, we feel that while in the short run that may impact taking viewership away from us but in the longer run it will help really strengthen that DD FreeDish platform itself.  We are happy that more consumers will be attracted to the platform which will also increase the interest of the new advertisers to come on free TV platforms. The overall advertising pie will increase in FTA space and we are more than happy to participate in that. 

The advertising revenue is increasing and every month is getting better than the previous one in terms of advertising. For instance, June was better than May and August looks better than July or any other previous month. 

Last month Jio announced the launch of Jio TV which will have all the OTT platforms including ShemarooMe. How will this partnership impact your business and the ecosystem? 

We are present across at least all the big players who are coming in with their boxes over their broadband network. We are on Airtel Xtreme, Tata Sky Binge and also on Jio TV.  Definitely it takes entertainment into the homes and in fact the consumption on these platforms is higher in terms of minutes of usage, or hours of consumption. The user is more engaged and it's depending on your consumption and content. 

We are more than happy to partner with these platforms and they give us a more solid reach and consumer base and distribution and therefore we are able to provide better content to the consumers. There is a natural synergy with them, their consumers need content and a lot of them don't want to be just an infrastructure provider device. People want to be a value added provider and we would love to partner every broadband or cable operator. 

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