Hoichoi banks on demand for ‘original’ content to double revenues

Hoichoi, an on-demand subscription-only video streaming platform owned by SVF Entertainment Pvt Ltd, is planning to double its revenues on the back of growing consumer demand for “original content”. The company is also exploring new revenue models as it targets the Bengali diaspora and at the same time tries to reach out to wider audiences with its Hindi content.

The three-year-old Hoichoi began as an ad-free Bengali content platform. This was at a time when OTTs were banking on in-platform advertisements and content was free or on freemium offerings (a mix of free and paid content). Over the last two years, Hoichoi began partnering telecom companies and other OTT platforms like Mx Player to provide content. It has also recently tied up with Jio Fibre. Subsequently, the existing Bengali offerings were dubbed and re-released in Hindi in order to reach out to a wider pan-India subscriber base.

Subscriptions account for the majority of Hoichoi’s existing revenues.

Subscriber base

According to Vishnu Mohta, Co-founder Hoichoi and Executive Director at SVF, the OTT platform has garnered 13 million subscribers already (including those who have accessed Hoichoi’s content though other platforms). Nearly 40 per cent of the subscriptions come from those based out of India (across 100 countries). Apart from India, Bangladesh and the US are the largest markets for the company.

It is very unlikely that Hoichoi will have advertisements on its platform, a model the platform has consciously stayed away from.

“We are exploring new revenue models which include sachet packs (pay-per-view), tie-ups with telcos in markets like the Middle East and Bangladesh, We are also open to in-product placements and branding. Some free content has also been introduced for recruitment of new subscribers,” he told BusinessLine, adding that: “We have been doubling our turnover every year for the last three years and are aiming for the same in FY21.”

Rising demand

Incidentally, the pandemic-induced lockdown has seen rising demand for OTT platforms. Streaming events like IPL on OTT platforms or videos on YouTube have only spurned popularity and demand for regional content, Mohta added.

Hoichoi saw a 4-5x jump in subscriptions and viewership in April and May over the January-March period. The company premiered some of the popular recent Bengali releases, too, during this period. As demand stabilised since June, Hoichoi is ramping up content to consolidate and retain subscribers.

Shows based on popular Bengali novels, thrillers or detective series, roping in marquee Bengali directors for content creation or direction are on cards. Investments have gone up substantially and 25 new shows are expected over the next six months. “First Day First Show” and “Hoichoi Originals” movies, generally made on smaller budgets compared to ones released theatrically, have been announced.

For big-budget movies, the company will stay away from “digital first” releases. Some of SVF’s big-budget movies are awaiting theatrical release, once multiplexes open.



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