Film and television production house Balaji Telefilms Ltd joined the digital bandwagon with the launch of its mobile platform ALTBalaji on Thursday. The advertisement-free, subscription-based service will be available 16 April onwards, and provide 32 original shows in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Gujarati.
ALT Entertainment is a sub-brand of Balaji’s that has backed alternative cinema like Love Sex Aur Dhokha, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai and Shor in the City.
“ALTBalaji is aimed at capturing the world between Narcos and Naagin," Ekta Kapoor, joint managing director of Balaji Telefilms, said at the launch, referring to the disparate sensibilities that exist between the edgy drug drama on Netflix and the supernatural TV series on general entertainment channel Colors.
“Balaji is known for its non-questionable family entertainers but we now want to venture into clutter-breaking content where there will hopefully be something for everyone," Kapoor said.
The cloud-based digital platform that has announced partnerships with global mobile payment firm Fortumo and Internet service provider ACT Fibernet will be priced at Rs60 a month in India.
Nachiket Pantvaidya, chief executive of ALTBalaji, identified the 19-34 age group as its target. “We’re catering to the lack of content that exists for not just resident Indians but also those living abroad. These are original and exclusive shows and we’re not a repeat television service," he said.
To be sure, Balaji is entering a fairly cluttered market, with Netflix and Amazon already having made inroads. Besides, a host of independent (Spuul, Wynk and BoxTV) and satellite-network-owned (Star India’s HotStar, Sony Entertainment Television’s Sony LIV and Zee Entertainment Enterprises’ DittoTV) platforms are also vying for viewers’ attention.
“The (over-the-top content or OTT) industry is in its growing phase and we don’t consider them (ALTBalaji) competition," said Siddhartha Roy, chief executive at Hungama.com, an entertainment portal owned by Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Pvt. Ltd that targets the 24-35 age group and prices content at Rs200 per month.
“We’re also looking at diverse genres of content and only consumers will decide what works for them over time," Roy added.