comedy

Sri Adhikari Brothers Group (SAB Group), an Indian production house and broadcaster, has partnered with handset manufacturers, telecom firms and online video aggregators to launch its new comedy programs in July under Happii-Fi brand.

The Mumbai-based company said in a press release that it has partnered with handset manufacturer Micromax, online video aggregators such as YouTube, FunOnGo, Hungama, Daily Motion and nexGTv, and Facebook among others to release its new shows. At least seven shows will be launched initially, as per the company’s statement.

Content created under Happi-Fi will be geared for more mass appeal and will not focus on irreverent or political styles of comedy (in short, nothing like All India Bakchod), Manav Dhanda, CEO of the SAB Group, told MediaNama in an earlier conversation.

Comedy is a big focus for SAB Group. In May 2016, Business Standard reported that the company plans to spend Rs 400-500 crore on making new comedy shows, especially for the digital medium.

“We want to create a comedy first eco-system across TV, on-ground and of course digital. The comedy piece will be presented under the ‘Happii’ umbrella, launching with the Happii-Fi digital content in the coming weeks. It will, then, be followed by the television called Happii and on-ground events and activations under the Happii-G banner,” Dhanda told the newspaper.

Will be making original content

The content created by SAB Group for digital will be separate from the content for its television channels. It will not be using its archival content in its digital properties either. “There is no way to monetise archived content sustainably. Estimates peg the consumption of catch-up at 15 per cent of the total digital consumption in the country. So evidently, original programming is the main story here,” Dhanda told Business Standard.

Competition

Evidently, SAB Group is a late entrant. It will compete with Rajshri Entertainment, The Viral Fever, which has been producing original web-only TV series for a while, as well as the multi channel networks that produce content for the digital medium such as Culture Machine and Ping Digital Broadcast.

Medianama’s take

SAB Group presumably has the wherewithal to launch a separate platform for its digital content. But its decision to not launch its own video application is an interesting one considering much of the video consumption is happening either on social networks or on YouTube. Facebook — one of SAB Group’s partners — has been extremely bullish on videos in recent times. The Wall Street Journal reported in June 2016 it has struck deals with 140 media companies and celebrities to make videos for its live streaming service Facebook Live, spending $50 million. The advantage of tying up with these platforms is that the content creator gets a ready user base, making it a little easier to catch up to the incumbents.

Finally, the decision to create fresh content for digital should work in the broadcaster’s favour. Web series mainly target the younger audience — so the shows need to be different. For example, TVF’s Pitchers is geared toward the young and urban people, who — in all likelihood — won’t be watching the comedy shows currently airing on TV. Comedy is a popular category when it comes to online videos and many in the industry believe that it will drive consumption.

Image credit: Flickr user Phil Shirley under CCBY.20