Ekta Kapoor: We create masaledaar content for Hindi audience
With the lockdown having boosted the subscriber base of OTT platforms, Ekta Kapoor on why she doesn't view Netflix and Amazon as threat to her app ALTBalaji
The story of the evolution of Indian satellite television would well be incomplete without Ekta Kapoor. Over the past two decades, the producer has dominated the telly world with her great Indian dramas that range from saas-bahu soaps to implausible stories about shape-shifting serpents. In contrast, her digital platform ALTBalaji had a slow start in 2017. Three years and over 60 original titles later, Kapoor claims that the OTT boom during the lockdown has given a boost to the platform.
"India's tier 2 and 3 towns have seen an upswing of Internet users that has been beneficial to all OTT platforms. We saw a lot of women from smaller towns subscribing to our platform; it also led to more time spent by our viewers. The growing demand for new seasons of the popular shows, including Baarish and Kehne Ko Humsafar Hain, have added to the brand's popularity," states Kapoor.
The OTT market has been largely dominated by the big players that include Netflix, Amazon and Disney+Hotstar. However, Kapoor insists that the international streaming giants do not pose a threat to her digital platform—where the former targets the urbane audience that enjoys its fill of Ozark and Succession, she has positioned her app to cater to "the Bharat audience".
"We welcome the international apps as they cater to a smaller percentage of India, but at the same time, help us in widening the industry. We are the OTT of the masses; we create masaledaar content for India and the Hindi-speaking diaspora. The challenge is to tap the Bharat audience, who are looking for good stories in their language," says Kapoor, noting that the next billion users will emerge not from the cities, but from the heartland of the country.
The lack of censorship on OTT platforms has become a subject of intense scrutiny. While ALTBalaji has more than its share of erotic web series, including Gandii Baat and XXX: Uncensored, she maintains that they practice self-censorship. "We have strived for self-censorship, where the final choice remains with the viewers."
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