Indian streamer ALTBalaji has revealed a focus on the burgeoning Indian youth market and a bulging slate.
The streamer, a division of Indian TV czarina Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms, has unveiled a slate of 30 titles across genres for the upcoming year, including new series and further seasons of existing shows.
New commissions include “Girgit,” “Class of 2021,” “50G,” “Cold Mess,” “Power Show” and “Special Crime Unit.” “Code M,” “Cold Lassi and Chicken Masala,” “Apharan,” “Dhanbad,” “Paurushpur,” “Pavitra Rishta,” “The Verdict” and “Mentalhood” have been renewed for second seasons, while “Pulp Fiction,” “Ragini MMS” and “Baarish” have been renewed for a third.
ALTBalaji now has 2.4 million subscribers as per its latest financial results announced in August. There are 86 shows streaming on the platform currently.
Balaji Telefilms Group COO Zulfiqar Khan says that the streamer is in a good space compared to its rivals in the youth market. This is significant because India is one of the youngest countries in the world, with more than 50% of its 1.3 billion population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. In 2020, the average age of an Indian was 29 years, compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan.
“I think we’re speaking the youth language and hence, our base is far more concentrated, it’s young,” Khan told Variety.
ALTBalaji’s price points are easy on the wallet. Subscriptions are available for INR100 ($1.35) for three months, INR180 ($2.45) for six months or INR300 ($4.10) for a year.
One of Kapoor’s mantras is the “massification” of content, making her shows available to as broad an audience base as possible and reaching the audience beyond the Indian metro agglomerations. Khan says that 60% of ALTBalaji’s audience is from non-metros. “We’re very clear that when we create content, it should go out to as many people as possible, across the length and breadth of the country.”
ALTBalaji is also known for its racy content, especially “Gandii Baat,” renowned for its frank depiction of sexuality, which began on 2018 and which has now completed six seasons.
“The compelling storytelling will continue and whatever is of the interest of the youth and what impacts their lives and their interests,” says Khan. “Some of it, people will say, ‘Okay, this is very racy.’ If the youth move on to something new as they evolve, and then the new lot comes in and society evolves, generations move on – we want to be at the right trajectory… we want to catch them young, see what their interests are, and deliver content which is of their interests.”
Meanwhile, a major investor in Balaji Telefilms is billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, which acquired a 24.9% stake in 2017. The deal gives Reliance Industries access to Balaji content for its Jio platform.
“Our working relationship with them is brilliant, one of brilliant partnership,” says Khan. “We engage with them, we talk to them. And, they’ve got some some tremendous strengths. We do what we do best, they do what they do best. There is wise counsel on both sides.”