It’s not a bad time to be in the subscription video business.
ALT Balaji has added 17,000 new subscribers per day in March, growing from 1.5 million paying subscribers in December 2019 to 1.7 million, gaining 200,000 new subscribers in Q4:2019–20 plus most of April, it said in a press release yesterday. A spokesperson for the streaming service told MediaNama that this number does not count viewers of aggregators who redistribute ALT Balaji content. The company said that before March, it was adding 10,000 new users a day, and after the lockdown it was adding 17,000 subscribers on a daily average.
Of course, subscription services are only a small part of the story. Watcho, Dish TV’s ad-supported short-form video service, said that it had amassed a staggering million new viewers, 50% more than the two million total viewers it had in January. (Watcho has a paid tier as well, and we have reached out to the company for clarity on subscriber growth in that segment.)
These streaming spikes are entirely expected. In fact, the Cellular Operators Association of India went out of its way to reduce its impact — streaming services, including the ones mentioned in this post, agreed to telecom companies’ demand to reduce the bitrate at which they stream video. Netflix is reducing the maximum bitrate at which it streams high resolution video, while Hotstar and YouTube have disabled high-definition streaming on mobile data.
Update (April 22): An earlier version of this article misstated the number of users ALT Balaji had in February. While information about the number of ALT Balaji subscribers in December 2019 was released in February, this was not the same number as it stood in February. We regret the error. Additionally, the headline and the article have been updated to reflect the fact that these new user additions include people added after the end of the quarter, up until April 20.