Video-streaming service ALT Balaji crosses 1 M paid subscribers within a year


ALT Balaji claims that over 800 million minutes of content was viewed on its platform in the March quarter.

Homegrown video-on-demand platform ALT Balaji has crossed one million paid subscribers in less than a year. While announcing its March quarter results, Balaji Telefilms (owner of ALT Balaji) revealed that there were 1.2 million paid subscribers of the service.

This is in addition to Jio TV, Airtel TV and Vodafone Play subscribers who can access ALT Balaji content through their phone carriers. Reliance Jio, of course, bought a 25-percent stake in ALT Balaji earlier in the year, while Vodafone and Airtel have content-sharing partnerships with the platform.

The ALT Balaji app has been downloaded 11 million times across Android and iOS, and an additional two million times on its website. The quarter saw the launch of 17 original shows in Hindi and English. Content was dubbed in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu too.

ALT Balaji revealed that viewers had consumed more than 800 million minutes of video on its platform at the end of March 2018. That is a nearly 2X growth over the previous quarter. Average watch time per user stood at 120 minutes.

Much of its traction in the fourth quarter was a result of the partnerships with telcos that led to widened reach and visibility. In addition, positive buzz around its flagship series Bose: Dead or Alive would have brought about more paid subscriptions.

The nine-part series starring popular Bollywood actor Rajkummar Rao in the role of Netaji Subhash Bose earned rave reviews for its production quality and performances. While the first five episodes were up for free viewing, users had to buy a subscription (quarterly/half-yearly/yearly) to watch the rest.

In an earlier conversation with YourStory, ALT Balaji’s Chief Strategy Officer, Ekalavya Bhattacharya, said,

The growth of television and digital is happening simultaneously. But, if subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) has to reach mass penetration, it has to be convenient, offer a good experience like no-buffering and HDK quality video, have a large library, and be available at a good price point. The sweet spot will happen when the mother of the house starts watching these shows.

Besides producing originals, ALT Balaji also offers kids and comedy content. Seventy percent of the content on ALT Balaji Kids is acquired, while ALT Balaji Comedy hosts live shows of 200-250 comedians sourced from other platforms.

There are movies too, but the collection is restricted to Balaji Telefilms’ and ALT Entertainment’s titles only. Unlike on Hotstar, which leads the video-streaming space in India, there is no sports content on ALT Balaji.

While the service continues to post a fiscal loss, its revenues are growing. ALT Balaji states that it owns IP in several regional languages and will create original shows in the time to come. Regional will drive mass adoption like it did for traditional TV.

“Short-format content will also pick up. Money will come in and the production quality will improve. This will open up the platform to NRI audiences who are more focused on quality,” Ekalavya said.