Sriram Manoharan shares his thoughts on the growth of OTT platforms in India, the still-to-be-tapped potential of the South, and the plans for GudSho.
Plan to create original content to cater to global audiences, says GudSho founder Sriram Manoharan
Mumbai - 03 Sep 2021 22:30 IST
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant series of lockdowns have forced people to change their work and lifestyle habits, including the way they seek entertainment. Over the past year and a half, we have been seeing a sharp growth in viewers for regional content on OTT (over-the-top) platforms. And because of this rise in demand for regional content, many new OTT platforms such as Aha, Hoichoi, Neestream, First Shows, Oho Gujarati and Planet Marathi, aimed specifically at local-language audiences, have sprung up.
GudSho is the latest addition to this growing list of regional OTT platforms. GudSho is the first OTT platform to premiere content in all four South Indian languages (Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada).
In an email interview, entrepreneur and GudSho founder Sriram Manoharan shared his thoughts on the growth of OTT platforms in India, the still-to-be-tapped potential of the South Indian market, and the plans for his latest venture. Excerpts:
You were a software developer. How and when did you get into the entertainment sector?
One of our successful products is CONTUS VPlayed, a platform that enables audio and video streaming across the web and on mobile phones, game consoles, set-top boxes and smart televisions with multi-platform delivery, monetization and security. It is used by customers in the fitness, enterprise and edtech spaces and also by OTT platforms like nvivoTV, which is sometimes referred to as the Netflix of Africa, Heeroz, a Punjabi OTT platform, and several others across the globe. Therefore, it was a logical step for us at CONTUS to enter the OTT space.
In addition, many people have content, but existing platforms are very selective in what they buy. We thought we could give them a platform to exhibit their content. Based on this, we have decided to enter the B2C [consumer-facing] sector with GudSho. I see much scope in South India for offering personalized and selected content for specific target viewers.
Are you planning to develop original content or simply acquire the rights to already available content?
We are focusing on both. At GudSho, we are acquiring the rights to exclusive content as well as already released movies and series. In addition, we are planning to create original content to cater to a global audience.
What are your criteria for acquiring content? What kind of content will we see on your platform?
At GudSho, you can see all kinds of movies and series from different genres like romance, drama, action, thriller, crime, fantasy, horror, adventure, political, etc. Our major criteria for acquiring content are that the content needs to be good, should have high video quality, and needs to be a good addition for our viewers. However, we will not acquire and stream adult or explicit content.
If an indie film producer wants to approach you to release her movie on your platform, what does she need to do? How can she approach you?
We have a separate content acquisition team of specialists in the subject. If anyone wants to release their film or series on our platform, they need to approach our content acquisition team, which will analyze and qualify the content. The content needs to be good and have better video quality. That’s it! They can simply release their films on GudSho.
GudSho is promoted as a one-stop OTT platform, but each of the languages you cater to has multiple OTT platforms specifically designed to cater to that particular audience. So what makes you confident that people will be interested in your platform?
The South Indian market comprises around 40 crore people. In the current scenario, this space is dominated by English and Hindi content providers. This vacuum can only be filled when more streaming platforms provide various choices of entertainment when it comes to regional content. The key aspect would be that the videos need to be much more relatable for building an audience base.
We see much scope in South India for offering personalized and selected content to specific viewers. We believe in giving a one-of-its-kind theatre experience to viewers of GudSho for unlimited regional entertainment. In addition, launching GudSho on my home ground of South India, an entertainment hub, is a privilege. Content creators in turn can reach audiences across the globe.
Some of the films on your platform are also playing on other OTT platforms. Aren't you worried about not being exclusive?
Not really, we also buy the rights from the respective content owners and production houses. In OTT, it is normal to stream the same content on different platforms. Users will watch a movie on a platform that provides the best watching experience at reasonable cost. That way our pay-per-use model will be very appealing to viewers. That's the thing we need to consider here.
You have opened shop in an already crowded market. What is your goal for the next couple of years? Any plans for expansion in North Indian languages?
As of now, we are focusing only on South Indian languages. Once we have succeeded in getting more users and brand presence, we will move gradually into other languages and regions.
We are also working on developing original content that will be streamed on our platform shortly. Moreover, we are in talks with leading distributors and production houses to acquire new movies and series. Our major goal is to build a best-in-class OTT platform and give the best watching experience to a global audience.
Telugu and Malayalam are poles apart when it comes to their movies. The Telugu industry is known for its over-the-top masala entertainers whereas the Malayalam industry is known for realistic cinema. How do you plan to strike a balance between them on your platform?
Based on the audience, we are planning the content strategies. As we are targeting South Indian audiences, we need to focus on all the major languages in this region. Most of the Telugu audience might enjoy action movies whereas most of the Malayalam audience might enjoy drama. From our end, we want to have content to cater to every language and preference.
Are you also planning to dub content from one language into the others?
Yes, we have a plan for that. If the content is good and can reach a global audience, we will definitely do dubbed releases.