Streaming platform Aha to invest 70-80% of Rs 1,000 crore in creating original content in the next three years

The Allu Arjun backed OTT platform claims to have 2.5 million paid users and 10 million free subscribers

The company claims to have reduced its investment in the acquisition of films in the last two years and is now more focussed on the co-production of films
The company claims to have reduced its investment in the acquisition of films in the last two years and is now more focussed on the co-production of films

Of the overall investment worth Rs 1,000 crore, which Arha Media & Broadcasting Pvt Ltd is all set to invest over a period of three years, about 20%-30% would be utilised to acquire films and the remaining 70-80% will be invested to create original content, Ajit Thakur, CEO, Aha told BrandWagon Online. Streaming app Aha is a joint venture by Allu Aravind (Geetha Arts) and My Home Group. It dreams content in Telugu and Tamil. “If we had we would invest the entire 100% in creating our own content. But that doesn’t work. So we have strategically decided to invest in a content-driven cinema as opposed to purchasing star-studded movies at an exorbitant cost,” he added.

The streaming platform which claims to have bagged the number two spot in Telugu has 2.5 million paid subscribers. “A lot of platforms publish their numbers, which includes the numbers through aggregators, but we have no such bundled deals. So this number is all direct. Furthermore, we have just launched gaming on the platform besides live news,” he added. The streaming platform is now gearing up to launch its own short-form video besides adding live commerce on the platform. Furthermore, it plans to expand in Telugu, “And we want to launch at least one more language this year and one next year,” he said.

The company revenue from sales of supply of services rose almost 2x to Rs 75.9 crore in FY22 from Rs 26.4 crore in FY21, as per regulatory filings accessed by business intelligence platform Tofler. While it net loss widened 28% to Rs 92.4 crore in FY22 from Rs 72.1 crore during the same period, in the corresponding year.

Interestingly, the company which claims to have reduced its investment in the acquisition of films in the last two years is now more focussed on the co-production of films. According to Thakur, the app has innovated when it comes to content. “ We are doing a lot more nonfiction and reality. We’ve just finished the second season of one of the most successful talk shows in India Unstoppable. We are starting Indian Idol season two next month, and we are doing a game show, among others. We have also invested in many original films,” he explained.

To be sure, the video streaming app has upped its game for K dramas in addition to building its Hollywood library of content. “Last year we acquired a big library of Hollywood content. We have also built a library for Telugu audiences and are now creating another one for Tamil and Malayalam viewers,” Thakur noted.

As for revenue is concerned the platform runs various schemes for users to subscribe. For instance, Aha Gold, an annual subscription, is available at Rs 699, while Telugu annual pack is available for Rs 299. It additionally earns from advertising as its reality shows are sponsored by brands. For instance, Unstoppable Season-2 boast of brands such as Realme, and FunBB, among others. “ While it is difficult to project the revenue we will earn from gaming, in the last three years our subscription revenue has almost doubled every year. We originally had only the quarterly and annual packs but we have introduced a gold pack which is 699. That pack has done very well for us,” Thakur said, adding that the platform is doing well in international markets including the US, UK, Australia and Canada where the Telugu diaspora resides. “With Tamil, we have launched in Malaysia and Singapore. So we are present in over 100 countries,” he noted.

Aha claims that last December it opened up for ads only for free users because it has about 10 million users. Also, about a year back it set up a brand solutions team to drive ad revenue. For Thakur, managing its average revenue per user besides retention has been the key game changer. “Our retention compared to the industry average is between 60-70%, which is double the industry average. And that is because every week, we give out a new piece of content. So in Aha, if you don’t re-subscribe for three months, you will miss out on 12 pieces of content. We launched 52 content pieces a year, which is one of the reasons for that is to build a habit and get this retention going,” he explained.

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First published on: 03-03-2023 at 09:32 IST
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