Balaji Telefilms said the pandemic has accelerated the digitalization process in the country, which augurs well for the entertainment industry and particularly for OTT, in which it intends to “pursue and invest” in more original content with affordable subscription rates. The leading media and content provider, which is present in the subscription-based video-on-demand service through ALTBalaji, has become a significant OTT player differentiated by its content and affordability, said the latest annual report of Balaji Telefilms.
“The company intends to pursue and invest in more original content catering to the specific preferences across different genres and at industry-competitive affordable subscription rates,” said Balaji Telefilms Group Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Dwivedi over the strategy of the company.
With the success of few movie releases on the OTT platform witnessed during the year, the over-the-top (OTT) segment is also likely to provide a platform for small-budget deep content releases, he added.
After the pandemic, several movies have been straight away released on OTT by the producers by-passing the theatrical windows, as the multiplex were closed for significant durations during the nationwide lockdown and the second wave of COVID-19.
India presently has a mix of indigenous players such as Alt Balaji, Voot, Zee5, MX Player, and Jio Cinema along with international streaming companies such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sony Liv, and Disney-Hotstar in the segment.
“The substantial investment by telecom operators in increasing internet penetration and new technology supports the consumer shift and further compliments the development of digital infrastructure in the country,” he said.
He added that this auger well for the entertainment industry, particularly the OTT segment, as it enables a much wider reach for ‘target audience, where volume’ and quality of the consumers are ‘equally important for sustainable performance of the business.
The company continues to maintain its focus on TV, movie, and OTT segments with an aim towards maintaining a strong balance sheet along with growth opportunities in emerging consumer trends.
Over the TV business, Dwivedi said it is “highly likely” to continue on its recovery path from the pandemic with more spending on content.
While the movie business is likely to segregate releases based on budget and casting with big-ticket movies opting, for theatrical releases, conditional on the prevalent government restrictions.
“The company intends to continue to pursue strategic partnerships with leading players in the industry for a profitable and long-lasting growth, constrained by the objective to maintain a healthy financial position and cash flow,” he said while addressing the shareholders of the company.
On the outlook, Dwivedi said, “We are optimistic on the outlook of the overall business, as we progress on our journey with a strategic focus on key areas of growth, financial metrics, and customer satisfaction.”
While talking about 2020-21, he said its OTT business delivered exceptional performance during the year and witnessed a comeback from the traditional TV and movie segments.
“In the aftermath of the pandemic, the organization dealt with severe challenges from logistic to distribution and across all the verticals,” he added.
In 2020-21, Bollywood veteran actor Jeetendra and his daughter Ekta Kapoor-promoted Balaji Telefilms’ revenue from operation stood at Rs 315.78 crore, down 45.2 percent. It was Rs 576.63 crore in 2019-20.