‘OTT has not negatively impacted Dish TV India’s VAS offerings’

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Published: May 17, 2019 12:11:03 AM

Dish TV’s foray into the digital video space with OTT app Watcho, although belated, is aimed at making the DTH service provider a complete digital entertainment platform.

ANIL DUA, Group CEO, Dish TV India and AKASH TYAGI, Head – OTT, Dish TV India (Image: TASHI TOBGYAL)ANIL DUA, Group CEO, Dish TV India and AKASH TYAGI, Head – OTT, Dish TV India (Image: TASHI TOBGYAL)

Dish TV’s foray into the digital video space with OTT app Watcho, although belated, is aimed at making the DTH service provider a complete digital entertainment platform. Anil Dua and Akash Tyagi talk about Watcho’s content and monetisation strategies, the impact of TRAI’s tariff order on DTH players, and more, in an interaction with Ankita Rai. Edited excerpts:

There are already more than 32 OTT apps in the country. How will Watcho be different and how will you monetise it?
Dua: Unlike most OTT players, we are not looking at 30-40-minute episodes; the maximum duration of our original content will not go beyond 20 minutes. We are building IPs around food, fashion and elections. Watcho will also have user generated content. Watcho has collaborated with IFP Campus Connect for short-film contests in over 25 colleges across India. At present, our focus is on the subscribers of Dish TV and D2H, but it is also available to other users free of cost.

Tyagi: The focus on short-format content is to enable on-the-move snacking of entertainment. The business model is initially focussed on ad sales. We are not looking at revenue immediately, but there are ample opportunities, such as in-show placements, title sponsorships, as well as subscription.

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Do you plan to make significant investments in original content?
Tyagi: We have a three-part content structure in place. The first is live TV — about 100 live channels are available right now; the second is catch-up content and the third is exclusive content.

Dua: For catch-up and live TV, there are separate agreements with broadcasters. But the main theme is Watcho Originals. We have, so far, 21 original shows in Hindi, Telugu and Kannada. We will be looking at more languages. We will not shy away from making investments. Several hours of original and library content in the form of movies and short films are already available. User generated content does not have any cost. We will scale up our content as we move forward. We have a flexible investment plan, and are targeting 10 million users in 2019.

For marketing, we will leverage our own media — our VAS channel, SMS and mail campaigns — and the digital medium.

How has the advent of OTT video platforms impacted the VAS offerings of DTH players?
Dua: VAS revenue has been growing in double digits. Movies and music are among the key contributors. The services are priced between `25-75. There has been no negative impact of OTT on VAS offerings. In fact, OTT might have fuelled the appetite for consuming different types of content. Given our strategy on Watcho, there is no cannibalisation. There could be synergies. For example, Watcho content could be made available on VAS and vice versa.

How has TRAI’s new tariff order affected DTH players?
Dua: As customers exercise choice under the new tariff order, we have seen almost 40% of our subscribers paying more. Consumers who have downgraded monthly plans have done so by only `10-20; but those who have started consuming more are spending `50-60 more per month.

Is the launch of Watcho aimed at increasing average revenue per user?
Dua: We see ARPU going up; but the idea is to increase stickiness and retention of our customer base which has its own returns. We don’t have to monetise the app immediately.

Tyagi: In terms of advertising inventory, there will be display, pre-roll and mid-roll ads. For a 20-second episode, the total duration of advertising will be around a minute. We are heavily reliant on programmatic, and are also trying to figure out ways to leverage our existing DTH platform for Watcho.

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