Updated, with corrections

balaji

Balaji Telefilms’ digital company ALT Digital will launch its first web series about the Indian armed forces. This series will be directed by Nagesh Kukunoor and star Nimrat Kaur and is the first of the 30-35 original series the company plans to launch in the future. The company’s digital video-on-demand platform is called ALT Balaji, which it says will have exclusive content, and intends to launch early next year.

Note that Balaji Telefilms had announced its plans to launch ALT in August 2015. At the time, it said it would develop content in Hindi, English and in regional languages, targeted at young audiences. The platform has not yet launched.

ALT is Balaji Telefilms’ second attempt at going digital. The company had launched a series of digital initiatives in June 2010, with a show called Bol Niti Bol, which was similar to a YouTube success that time called LonelyGirl15.

Appointments at ALT Digital

Preparing for its launch, the company had appointed Nachiket Pantvaidya as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ALT Digital in December last year. It also appointed Sunil Nair as Chief Operating Officer, Ashish Bhansali as Product Head, Sudarshan Kadam as Head, Alliance and Partnerships and Joyce Andrade for content, product and ad operations. Meenakshi Mediratta had been appointed Head of Digital Marketing, but a Balaji representative informs us that she is no longer with the company.

Fundraising and partnerships

In February 2016, the production house said that it would be raising Rs 150 crore from a clutch of international investors by selling 14% stake in the company. The funds would be used to launch and grow its digital content business. It is worth noting that the company had denied specific intention of selling a stake in its digital business to a global company in November 2015.

Later in March 2016, Balaji Telefilms had partnered with Xstream, an OTT solution provider and Diagnal, another OTT company to power ALT Balaji.

Developments in the video on demand segment:
-Earlier this month, YouTube launched YouTube Kids in India.
– Reliance Big Entertainment launched a new video on demand (VOD) app Chillx.
– Last month, Vimeo launched its customer facing subscription for its content creators.
– In September 2016, Netflix announced the launch of its original standup comedy series in India with comedian Vir Das.
– In the same month, Amazon made a long term agreement with Dharma Productions where it will stream films and upcoming releases from the production house on Prime Video in India.

Updates: A few updates in this post:

  • A Balaji representative informed us that they will produce 30-35 original series, not 32
  • The appointments mentioned took place last year, and weren’t new.