vice president, content head, Vuclip (Viu)
On the challenges
OTT comes with its own creative possibilities and challenges. I think there is a certain maturity we need to achieve and work on to create really high quality content that the film industry can boast of.
In India, we are in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. Each market has its own potential and challenges. So, evolve as fast as you can. Our basic attempt is to understand the viewers from each of these markets. Unlike TV serials, people expect a lot more from OTT in terms of quality, freshness and the narrative. Other challenges include getting the right writers or actors.
On finding the right writer
We never say no to experienced or good writers, whether they come from TV or films. One of the biggest challenges we face while working with an established writer is that he/ she simply wouldn’t have that kind of time to devote to an original series. A good TV writer is already busy writing round the clock.
Many writers we have worked with have had their upbringing in TV. They can write for digital series or films only if they take a break. Also, in TV it is more of formulae writing, so, whether it is round the clock or bound by time, delivery becomes more important than quality. Those parameters of TV might discourage some people to work with TV writers. But we still believe a good writer is a good writer no matter which medium he belongs to.
On attracting viewers
I think it takes probably 10 minutes or, at the worst, a whole episode to get a viewer hooked on OTT. The first episode, more or less, decides whether one is going get hooked or not. In TV, though the first week decides the fate of the daily soap, you still have the luxury of making creative changes while you are on the run and have a turnaround. In digital series, we don’t have that luxury. The only weapon that an OTT platform has to really hook a viewer, is in the initial five or ten minutes of the first episode.
On generating engaging content
At Viu, we maximise the in-depth understanding of the viewer we are talking to. A millennial viewer is a dynamic one and keeps changing year on year, day on day. Our challenge is to take what they understand and what they aspire to.
Secondly, we invest time in selecting the kind of talent we want to work with when it comes to writing, producing and directing because these choices will eventually reflect in the quality of the originals we make.
Thirdly, we look for subjects that help us maximise the potential of the digital medium by pushing the envelope, introducing new narratives, perspectives or subjects that have not been touched upon.