Linear TV makes its way into the video streaming space with over-the-top (OTT) platform Aha launching channels that will play scheduled programmes through virtual channels.
The platform aims to combine traditional television with on-demand streaming content, said Dilip Chandra, Vice-President of Product and Analytics, Aha.
Co-owned by film producer Allu Aravind, Aha was launched in 2020 with one-language content. From Telugu, it later went on to add Tamil contents on the platform.
What are virtual channels?
Virtual channels are like any linear TV channel like the ones on air by broadcasters like Star and Zee. Content on the virtual channels will be decided by a programmer same as it is done for a TV channel. “We will program our own content and make it like a playlist of shows and movies. This will be scheduled viewing and unlike on-demand OTT viewing where people spend 10-15 minutes deciding what to watch,” Chandra said.
What is the need for virtual channels?
Linear TV programming is a content format that is appealing to a wider audience and can translate into getting a different set of audience in the ecosystem, Chandra said. “At the heart of the media and entertainment customer is the linear TV experience. We relied on market research data from which we realised that linear sports and GEC (general entertainment) channels have a heavy weightage in linear TV experience.”
What content will be available on virtual channels?
The streaming service will launch the new format with the GEC genre. “One channel will be GEC. We will package series and movies on the linear channels and there will be a healthy mix of both these contents. On the average, we are targeting six to eight hours of programming each day. There will be a 30-day programming guide. Post feedback, we will increase content in terms of number of hours. There will be some overlap but there will be some exclusive content, too,” he said.
When will these virtual channels launch?
The OTT has completed testing and plans to launch in the next two-three weeks. “We will launch the virtual channels by October. We will start with two channels. A lot of the emphasis will be on programming strategy. Our focus markets will be India and the US,” Chandra said.
How much will the virtual channels cost?
The virtual channels will be part of the existing packs that Aha offers. The channels will be available behind the paywall and some of them will be advertising-led.
What impact will be on ad and subscription revenue?
The OTT expects the new content format to boost watch time per user per day. “The nature of linear TV is that the audience watch content for a longer time. This will translate into better customer retention. As watch time increases, it brings higher ad revenue potential as more the audience watches content more advertisers will advertise. Customer retention will help in subscription revenue,” Chandra said.
He noted that the watch-time on the platform is 60 minutes per user per day.
The platform which had started as a subscription service took the advertising route last year. OTTs like Netflix have also forayed into advertising video on-demand (AVOD).
“There is a growth of 15-20 percent month-on-month in ad revenue. From the day we launched AVOD (advertising video on-demand) it has been contributing to our topline. It contributes 15-20 percent to the company’s overall revenues. As we have established a connection with national and regional brands, we expect them to experiment with the new content format,” Chandra said. Moneycontrol