ALTBalaji should be able to break-even in next 12-18 months: Nachiket Pantvaidya

MUMBAI: Balaji Telefilms-owned subscription video on demand (SVoD) platform ALTBalaji is hoping to break-even in next 12 to 18 months, a senior company official stated.

“Usually, a digital platform becomes profitable in 36 months since its launch and we are now in the 24th month. So in the next 12 to 18 months, the platform should break even,” ALTBalaji CEO Nachiket Pantvaidya told reporters here.

ALTBalaji has amassed 13.1 million subscribers with 4.6 million monthly active users in two years of its launch. ALTBalaji has earned revenue of Rs 28.1 crore in 9M FY19 compared to Rs 6.8 crore in FY18.

The platform is aiming to build a content library of 100 original shows by 2020. Currently, it boasts of a library of over 36 original shows. “We are in the process of establishing our library and gathering data. So right now, we will build a library of at least 100 shows for our three target groups and I am sure that will multiply in the coming years,” Pantvaidya stated.

Having enough shows in the library will also help the company to build a transaction VoD model. “Our issue on TVoD is that we need large library and at least 100 shows. This is just a rough number because we are in the early stage of market development. So after 100 shows, TVoD will see good traction,” he added.

Balaji Telefilms has set a target of spending Rs 150 crore on ALTBalaji of which Rs 100 crore would be for content while the rest Rs 50 crore would be for market establishment.
Currently, ALTBalaji has 200 hours of content residing on its platform. It is targeting to launch an additional 200 hours of content by April 2020 with around 24 new shows.

In the near-term, the platform will focus on the numerically strong Hindi speaking markets. It will start pushing for regional content from 2020. The platform has already launched shows in regional languages including Tamil, Bengali, and Bhojpuri.

“We have got Bengali and Bhojpuri shows on our language list. At ALTBalaji, 90% of our focus would be on Hindi content right now. We will be focussing on regional content seriously from January 2020,” Pantvaidya noted.

The platform will also be exiting the kids genre as it is focussing on the audience in the 18+ age groups. It will remove all kids related content in the next 6 to 12 months.

Explaining the rationale behind exiting kids genre, Pantvaidya stated, “Our content is 18 plus, so we don’t want to have a kids environment. We are taking the entire kids section off in the next 6 to 12 months. We started with kids but we changed our mind. When we started with kids, there was no Jio, So, Jio became the factor and then the whole strategy changed. We have not made any new content in past 8 to 10 months in the kids space and we want to exit that space.”

ALTBalaji’s audience is divided into three categories – male, female and international audiences. More than 95% of viewership comes from the Indian market while international markets are less than 5% of the total viewership. In terms of gender, male and female viewers have an almost equal share of viewership.

However, the paid subscriber base is skewed towards the male audience with 65% of the total paid subscribers being men. The female audiences make up the remaining 35% of the paid subscriber base.

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