No Dam­age Done

Hungama Dig­i­tal’s CEO on what ‘orig­i­nal’ means.

The Brand Reporter - - EDITORIAL - By Su­raj Ram­nath su­raj.ram­nath@afaqs.com

Dig­i­tal en­ter­tain­ment com­pany Hungama Dig­i­tal Me­dia has launched its orig­i­nal show Dam­aged. The psy­cho­log­i­cal crime drama went on air from June 6 on Hungama Play, it video on de­mand plat­form which was launched in 2015. Dam­aged is di­rected by Aarambhh Mo­han Singh and pro­duced by Al­li­ga­tor Me­dia.

Hungama plans to take the con­tent to a global au­di­ence with the help of ex­ist­ing and new part­ners. Hungama’s as­so­ci­a­tion with Xiaomi will en­able con­sumers to watch the shows via Hungama Play on Mi Video and Mi TV. In ad­di­tion to this, users will be able to stream the shows through Hungama Play on Voda­fone Play, Idea Movies & TV, Ama­zon Fire TV Stick and other An­droid TVs.

Talk­ing about the rea­son be­hind it tak­ing more than two years, post­launch, to come up with an orig­i­nal se­ries, Neeraj Roy, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and CEO, Hungama Dig­i­tal Me­dia, says, “To me, it is not about what took us so long be­cause the plat­form lends it­self to so much of sto­ry­telling. What we have done at the mo­ment, is just the tip of the ice­berg. We will never be a plat­form which will be driven by ‘I have 20 shows and 30 shows’. I would rather do qual­ity shows and also equally build on build­ing au­di­ences for those shows. These shows need to be made in a way where there is some con­nect and affin­ity with the au­di­ences be­cause if these shows are suc­cess­ful, then they lend them­selves to sea­sons; whereas what we have seen now is just vol­ume that’s com­ing around and we have put a fil­ter on that. We want to con­cen­trate on good stories and good au­di­ences.”

For Roy, the first goal was to build au­di­ences. “When we launched the com­pany two and a half years ago, it was about putting the ba­sic con­tent in place, which was movies and we had 6,500 films across 13 lan­guages in­clud­ing main­stream Hollywood. We have also fo­cused on re­gional cin­e­mas. We started bring­ing in some amount of TV shows and, as a com­pany, over the last 10-12 years we have served 300 mil­lion au­di­ences and our net­work has about 50 mil­lion­plus ac­tive monthly users.”

He adds, “Within a mat­ter of a few months, post launch­ing Hungama Play, we re­alised that this plat­form is go­ing to be al­most equal, in terms of a plat­form, for orig­i­nal sto­ry­telling. When you start that jour­ney, it is a process, so we en­gaged with 60-65 dif­fer­ent film-mak­ers from main­stream films and tele­vi­sion. The last pro­duc­tion process started only one year back. Then we wanted to have all those shows and now we are ready with four shows.” Seventy per cent of Hungama’s mar­ket­ing ef­forts are go­ing to be on the dig­i­tal medium. And Hungama will pro­mote Dam­aged through OTT and Print medi­ums as well.

Is it go­ing to be a game of orig­i­nals that dif­fer­en­ti­ates ev­ery VoD plat­form. He re­sponds, “Ev­ery plat­form needs to dif­fer­en­ti­ate with some form of con­tent which is unique and orig­i­nal to it. To­day, what is generic to that cat­e­gory - some­thing like Net­flix and if you go back to the ori­gins of Net­flix, it took them seven years to ag­gre­gate the con­tent and then they em­barked on orig­i­nal stories. Of course, that was six years ago. To­day, the base at which the In­dia de­vice and ac­cess mar­ket have opened, it is a case study in the world. The cy­cle of adop­tion is much wider. Lastly, for us, it was about fill­ing a gap in the kind of stories which were miss­ing in main­stream tele­vi­sion view­ing

“Ev­ery plat­form needs to dif­fer­en­ti­ate with some form of con­tent which is unique and orig­i­nal to it.” NEERAJ ROY

and try­ing and see what we can get. In mar­kets like In­dia, the orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming jour­ney will be sharper and rapid and we are com­mit­ted.”

Apart from Dam­aged, Hungama has also an­nounced that it plans to launch 10-12 orig­i­nal shows in the cur­rent fis­cal year. The next three shows are Hankaar (a crime drama se­ries), Bar Code (drama) and Boys with Toys (com­edy). These are 25-minute shows with 10-15 episodes in a se­ries.n

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