Netflix | Photor: Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg
Text Size:

Mumbai: A small rival of Netflix Inc. in India plans to ramp up production of low-cost web shows in order to turn profitable.

ALT Digital Media Entertainment Ltd. aims to produce about 60 new web shows through a joint venture over the next two years, helping it to break even at the net income level. That would add to the 42 shows already owned by the company, which is the online-streaming unit of Balaji Telefilms Ltd.

“We are a pure-paying model right now, but once we reach that threshold of around 100 originals, we may think on advertising,” Nachiket Pantvaidya, ALT Digital’s chief executive officer, said in an interview at his office in Mumbai last week.

Digital subscribers in India are expected to increase to about 1.1 billion in 2030 from 528 million in 2018, according to KPMG India Pvt. Streaming sales in Asia’s third-biggest economy are estimated to more than triple to 621 billion rupees ($8.7 billion) in the five years to March 2024, according to a report the accounting firm published last month.

While much smaller than Netflix, Balaji is about 25% owned by Reliance Industries Ltd., the giant conglomerate controlled by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani. And India’s lower and middle income digital consumers prefer regional content, according to KPMG, which may favor local providers with that demographic.


Also read: Netflix’s next big market – India – is already crowded with cheaper rivals


“I think one has to cater to either the classes or the masses; trying to have both the pies will lead to a confused strategy and may not work well,” said Pantvaidya, who serves as chief operating officer at Balaji Telefilms in addition to running ALT Digital.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

While Netflix and other major players cater primarily to urban subscribers with high-cost global productions, ALT Digital’s ALTBalaji service is focused mainly on Hindi-language shows, targeting people between 20 and 40 years old who live in India’s 30 largest cities. Netflix has four monthly plans in India ranging from 199 rupees to 799 rupees. ALTBalaji offers a three-month subscription for 100 rupees and a 12-month plan for 300 rupees.

ALTBalaji expects its revenue to nearly double this fiscal year to about 800 million rupees. Profitability should be helped by the fact that Balaji Telefilms will fund most of its planned production expenses. ALTBalaji and its partner Zee5, an online-streaming platform of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., aim to spend about 2.5 billion rupees over the next two years.

“We are committed to providing content for the masses, and only 5% of what we want to produce will be super-premium shows with an expensive star cast,” Pantvaidya said.


Also read: AltBalaji is the Netflix of the Ekta Kapoor world. And flaunts more than saas-bahu serials


 

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

Share Your Views

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here