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Bengali OTT platform Hoichoi sees 50% rise in subscriptions, plans to expand into Southeast Asia

Bengali streaming platform Hoichoi has recorded a surge in subscription and revenue growth in the fifth year of its launch.

The over-the-top (OTT) platform, which started operations in September 2017, saw subscriptions and revenue rising 50 percent, Soumya Mukherjee, COO, Hoichoi, told Moneycontrol.

“There is 50 percent year-on-year growth in subscription numbers. And we have seen almost a 40 percent rise in our international subscriber base in the last one year. Monthly active users have grown at the rate of 30-40 percent month on month,” he said.

While Bangladesh has been the biggest contributor in terms of subscriber volume, in terms of revenue, markets such as the US, Australia, Canada, the UK and the Middle East are bigger as their average revenue per user (ARPU) is much higher.

In India, the platform is priced at Rs 1,000 for an annual plan. For international markets, a monthly plan costs around $10 a month while the annual plan is $50.

Overseas focus
The overseas market, which contributes 40 percent to Hoichoi’s overall revenue, is growing at a healthy pace due to movie premieres and local content, said Mukherjee.

“A big chunk of growth in the international market is attributed to world premiere movie releases, which is a month after theatrical release. There is a good buzz around these movies and that really helps us in acquiring customers internationally. The future growth plan lies in Bangladesh, where we are creating more than 10-12 originals in the coming year with local talent. We have done a lot of strategic partnerships with their top telecom companies.”

Similarly, the platform is partnering with telecom companies in the Middle East, UAE and Qatar. “Another big market for expansion would be the Southeast Asian market, primarily Malaysia and Singapore. That is something we are looking to tap sometime in the first quarter of next year,” he said.

Mukherjee said that growth in subscriptions has led to growth in revenue. “In FY22, we grew at over 50 percent and this includes paid subscription revenue, revenue from partners and revenue from brands. The platform has grown in the range of 40-45 percent year-on-year and this financial year (FY23), we should be growing at about 60 percent.”

Bundled approach
Last year, the company stopped licensing its content and bundled it with aggregators such as Amazon Prime Video, Airtel, and others in order to focus on direct acquisitions, as ARPU is much higher from direct subscriptions.

“There is no licensing of original shows. Instead, we want to work with partners for distribution but they have to bundle Hoichoi as a service. Initially, we took a big revenue hit, but what happened eventually is that we got a lot of bundled partnerships due to which subscriptions grew and in turn overall revenues grew. Plus, we have been able to protect our library of content and it is not available everywhere,” said the COO.

The platform gets 50 percent of its revenues from direct subscriptions and 45 percent from its partners, through bundling.

Adding more original content
The OTT is also expanding its original portfolio. “Currently, we have around 130 original shows. This year we are announcing 25 new shows, which should release in less than a year. Almost 50 percent of the shows are in production at this stage; 20 percent are complete and 30 percent are in the pre-production stage. Apart from shows, we are also acquiring at least 15 world premiere movies. We are also looking to add over 50 movies to our catalogue,” he said.

While 80 million paid subscriptions recorded in 2021 is expected to increase to 114 million by 2024, the percentage of paying subscribers in the OTT video space currently remains low, according to an EY-FICCI 2022 report.

Last year, paying subscribers to total OTT consumers was less than 10 percent for video OTTs.

But Mukherjee said that paid subscribers are increasing year-on-year across the subscription industry.

“From day one, we took the approach of not offering content for free or via the advertising model, and we have seen revenue increasing, which means my subscription rate is also increasing. In the third year, subscriptions on the platform grew at 30 percent and shouldnow grow at 60 percent,” he said. Money Control

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