“Hoichoi to dig deep into sub-genres and churn out more original content in 2020” : Vishnu Mohta

The Indian OTT industry is showing no signs of stopping! With almost 40 video streaming platforms, content is flowing like never before.  Homegrown video streaming services have upped their game to provide myriad original content, especially in the regional space. Hoichoi, the largest OTT platform from Bengal focusing exclusively on Bengali language content worldwide, is no exception. Quite recently, the SVOD service owned by SVF (Shree Venkatesh Films) Entertainment has announced to launch 25 original series and six original movies in FY (fiscal year) 21, beginning from 1 April. Besides upgrading its original content slate, Hoichoi aims to acquire a good chunk of popular Bengali feature films on the platform, before their television premiere. Speaking to AnimationXpress Hoichoi co-founder and SVF executive director Vishnu Mohta said, “I think one of the biggest advantages that Hoichoi has as an OTT player in the market is that it has a varied audience-base. In 2020, our main focus is to dig deep into sub-genres and churn out more such content which will ultimately, resonate to our audience. We are planning to produce another 25 original series in 2020. We are already streaming our 50th original show – season five of Byomkesh and looking to introduce an interesting mix of genres like Psychological Thriller-Horror, Treasure-Hunt Adventures, Modern Literary Adaptations, Biopics, Period Drama based on real events and so on.” Hoichoi has produced varied content across genres to gain wider audience attention and keep doing so. There has been a significant rise in their subscriber numbers in 2019, with Charitraheen 2, Hello 2 and Paap (Durga Puja special show) gaining most traffic. Shows like Taranath Tantrik (literary adaptation), Byomkesh (detective show), Hello (drama) and Japani Doll (satirical comedy) also turned out to be quite successful for them. Commenting on the current trends in the Bengali content industry, Mohta shared, “The audience now demands fresher and relatable content. The hunger for newer content, faces and talent has grown since the inception of the digital boom. Thus, speaking on behalf of the industry, we are always on the lookout for the massive creation of content, releasing two originals every month. Hence, we need ample support from content creators, directors and filmmakers to be able to achieve that. Even when we make an original in Bangladesh, we ensure the production, the makers, the talent – everyone is from that country itself so people there who are watching can relate and they can bring out their own culture in their best way [four out of six original movies, will be produced out of Bangladesh]. Another notable change is the process of film distribution. The sole priority has now shifted from movie theatres to television premieres and now, digital deals are becoming equally important.”  The SVOD platform caters to 250 million Bengali diaspora globally including Bangladesh and Agartala apart from the ones residing in India. Besides Kolkata, its primary subscriber base, Hoichoi’s considerable chunk of subscribers also come cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Assam, Delhi and others. On the international front, the US and the UK are its key markets.
Vishnu Mohta
Such an amazing graph by creating and distributing original Bengali content has not stopped Hoichoi from exploring non-Bengali speaking markets, by introducing dubbed versions of their shows and films, as Bengal has an enviable library of content. Added Mohta, “The response for the dubbed versions from the audience has been tremendously positive on Hoichoi as well as on our partner platforms, thus we are focusing a lot on dubbed content, so much so that, we are streaming both Bengali and Hindi versions on the same day of release. Hindi is the first language we dealt with, however, we are also looking to dub a few of our shows in certain languages from the South. English subtitles are given to all content that’s showcased on the service.” According to a recent CII-BCG report, India’s SVOD market is estimated to reach $1.5 billion by 2023 from a projected $0.5 billion in 2019, driven by diverse content and convenience of on-the-go entertainment. Presently, Hoichoi boasts of 2000+ hours of content, more than 140 million total page views and more than 22 million total streams.