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5 years after its first attempt failed, Balaji Telefilms to try digital media again


Balaji Telefilms has announced the launch of “ALT Digital Media Entertainment Limited”, as the groups foray into the digital content business, and “the next growth driver for the Company.”

This is the groups second attempt at digital: it had first launched a series of digital initiatives a little over five years ago, in June 2010, with a show called Bol Niti Bol, which was similar to a YouTube success that time called LonelyGirl15. Bol Niti Bol had gone live on Rediff and Mid-Day as well; the last time a video was uploaded on Rediff was 19th August 2010. For that time, it was perhaps moderately successful, with 666,606 views for 33 videos, with the biggest success being the, erm, search friendly “Why Girls can’t watch a porn movie???“, with 200,727 views, accounting for a little over 30% of the channels overall views on YouTube.

Apart from Bol Niti Bol, Balaji’s digital content foray had included:

– Entertainment recruitment portal Hoonur.com as a social network for those looking to work in the entertainment industry. The site is now offline.
– Made for mobile audio and video content – Devotional, humor, Mythology, Jokes, and “youth oriented fiction” – for distribution as mobile value added services, with content live with telecom operators MTS, Virgin, Idea, Aricel, Airtel, BSNL (on BSNL 3G as well), Loop and Reliance, as well as VAS companies like Spice, OnMobile Global and IMI Mobile.
– For Aircel, it also produced a made-for-mobile show called Kriminal Kaun.
– A devotion focused iPhone Application on Lord Ganesha, with stories and devotional songs.

In December 2011, Balaji sold its Media Education and mobile content business for Rs 8.37 crore. The businesses, for the year ending March 31st 2011, had reported a loss of Rs 8.35 crore on net sales of Rs 2.62 crore.

So, while this isn’t their first attempt at the digital space, there is a distinct change in the market demographics: there are over 200 million mobile Internet connections alone now, and video is around 40% of Airtel’s mobile Internet traffic. Brands are more keen on sponsoring online video content now. The digital content market has changed dramatically in a short space of time, but frankly, the audience is far more discerning and transient than it used to be. How Alt Digital Media does depends on what it creates, and whether it goes viral. Even then, we wonder what the lifecycle of the content will be like.

What they plan to do this time

The launch of ALT Digital Media will take place in early 2016. Balaji says it will:
– move “beyond the current themes of television entertainment to set a new bench-mark with younger, edgier and smarter contemporary content that merits a different medium”

– launch with an “all-new original drama series across genres that will be co-created by some of the best and brightest names in the Indian entertainment industry.”

– “develop content in Hindi and English and later in other regional languages, all of which will be available on subscription-based and premium ad-supported models to domestic and global Indian audiences.”

– Use big data analytics.

For more on online video, some from our interview series:

“YouTube is for broadcasting, whereas FB is an engagement platform”– Srikanth Pinninti, Myntra
“Once consumers get turned off, it’s hard to get them back to the table” – Nickhil Jakatdar, Vuclip
“If someone is giving me everything for free, they’re not even testing if I am willing to pay”– Nickhil Jakatdar, Vuclip
“Our plan is not to be only a YouTube channel” – Vinoth Chandar, Chuchu TV
“YouTube Kids app was expected to be launched this year end” – Vinoth Chandar, Chuchu TV
“We transitioned from small arenas into bigger auditoriums because of YouTube success” – Tanmay Bhat, All India Bakchod
“Brands expect anything that we touch to go viral” – Tanmay Bhat, All India Bakchod
“Consistent quality over quantity as of now” – Tanmay Bhat, All India Bakchod

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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