SVF (previously, Shree Venkatesh Films), Eastern India’s largest film production house that owns Bengali over-the-top player Hoichoi, is planning to introduce children-specific content and music streaming services on its platform by early 2018.

The three-month-old platform operates on an ad-free, subscription only format and has seen 350,000-odd downloads. Apart from India, it also targets Bangladesh – the other major Bengali speaking market.

addatimes is the only other web portal that has offerings catering specifically to a Bengali audience.

According to Vishnu Mohta, co-founder, Hoichoi and Executive Director, SVF offerings for children and young adults will include a mix of animated series and original content.

Incidentally, kids-only content is seen as a major draw for OTT players and market sources peg it to be a major differentiator even in the case of regional content platforms.

Apart from Hoichoi, Viacom18-owned Voot, SPN-promoted Sony LIV and aggregators such as nexGTv, are developing original content. Even, German kids television content provider Da Vinci Learning has entered India.

“By March next year, we should have kids-specific content on the platform. This will be followed by music streaming with some 1,000-odd songs that include a mix of classics and new tunes,” he told BusinessLine. Hoichoi is also in talks for developing original content targeting the Bangladeshi audience.

Exclusives, tie-ups

Players such as Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Netflix, ALTBalaji, Voot and others are said to invest towards creating and distributing original programming in Hindi and regional languages.

Hoichoi is no different. The platform has 10 ‘originals’ (own shows/exclusives) and plans to add two new ones every month in the coming days. Production could either be by SVF or there could be content acquisitions.

The OTT-player has also initiated discussions with both established and new Bengali authors for reproduction of their works on-screen. And, audio books could be mulled if there’s an audience.

“If required we could also look at re-writing some acquired foreign content to suit Bengali audiences. But right now, the focus is on developing own content,” Mohta said.

Exclusive film premieres – first to be viewed on Hoichoi after a theatrical release – is being explored and six such film tie-ups have already materialized.

The Bengali film industry produces close to 100 films every year with an annual turnover of Rs 100 crore, while the television industry (Bengali) has a turnover of around Rs 200 crore. – The Hindu Business Line