Kolkata-based media and entertainment company Shree Venkatesh Films (SVF) has launched an on-demand video streaming platform called Hoichoi. The platform focuses on Bengali language content, but provides English subtitles for all of them. Currently, it features over 500 movie titles, including the entire slate of films produced by SVF. Trailers of 5 Hoichoi Original series are on view as well – Dupur Thakurpo (Comedy), Cartoon (Horror), Lift (Thriller), Holy Faak (Romance), and Hello! (Thriller). However, no specific release date for these web series has been mentioned. Hoichoi claims that it’ll be adding new original shows every month. In addition, over 1000 Bengali songs (presumably both film music and private albums) will be made available soon. But once again no clear date has been specified.
Users get to choose from three plans: 12 months for Rs 399, 6 months for Rs 249 and 3 months for Rs 149. These prices will remain for a limited period (no mention of how long the introductory phase will run for), following which the 12 month plan will cost Rs 799, the 6 month plans will cost Rs 499 and the 3 month plan will cost Rs 225.
Payment options include the usual credit card, debit card, and net banking, as well as;
- Cash card (ItzCash)
- Mobile payment (Federal Bank’s Scan N Pay mobile payment app)
- Wallet (Freecharge, MobiKwik, JioMoney and SBI Buddy)
- UPI (powered by CCAvenue)
Hoichoi also offers offline viewing, so users can download the content and watch later, and the platform is completely ad-free. Download the iOS and Android apps here, and it is available for the Chromecast as well. The website claims that it will be made available for Apple TV, Roku TV and Amazon Fire TV soon.
Global content distribution and monetisation platform ViewLift is Hoichoi’s technology partner. Hoichoi co-founder Vishnu Mohta said that the reason they chose ViewLift was because of “their ability to deploy a full-service video infrastructure rapidly, supporting distribution, consumption and monetisation across all major platforms and devices – Android, iOS, Roku TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast.”
There are no other OTT platforms that focus exclusively on Bengali language content, so that automatically means that Hoichoi will be able to cater to a thus far untapped market. Some of the established players in this space – Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime – feature a small selection of well-known/popular Bengali films, and in case of Hotstar it also features content from the Bengali language TV channel Star Jalsha. But none of them offer any original content. All five trailers of original shows on Hoichoi look very interesting, and feature A-list actors from the Bengali film industry, unlike most other web series in India. The exception here is ALT Balaji – incidentally they have also invested significantly on original content – which has already developed an original Bengali web series called Dhimaner Dinkaal with Saswata Chatterjee in the lead, and is currently working on Bose Dead/Alive with Rajkumar Rao playing the titular role.