As ALTBalaji turns one, Balaji head honcho Ekta Kapoor talks to Team Box Office India about the effort that went into creating such a powerful platform
ALTBalaji has completed a year. What do you feel when you look back at its conception?
I feel overwhelmed with the response and love ALTBalaji has received in just one year. We’ve tried to create content that’s high concept and path-breaking. People who started watching television in 2000 have moved and adapted to the new digital space, while TV continues to talk to the mass population of India. On TV, I have to create content for the masses and the storytelling is done keeping their sensibilities in mind. On digital, we have an offering for the eclectic mix of audiences that exist. We’ve thus tried to create unique, specific content for different audiences and thereby encourage individual viewing.
What were your expectations for ALTBalaji when you started the platform?
With ALT, I wanted to create content for the urban mass audience of India and reach out to a large section that had migrated out of television but still craved emotion and entertainment from its content. ALT was an idea that came into being when Balaji Telefilms, which is known for family entertainment, decided to come up with clutter-breaking content meant for the urban mass. We felt Balaji Telefilms stood for ‘home viewing’ of tailored content to suit family sensibilities in households across india. So, while television continues to cater to the large mass, digital allows for edgier, evolved ideologies to be showcased in a fresh presentation.
Were there any ups and downs that you saw the platform face?
The digital medium is at a nascent stage in India and it’s a fertile ground for content creators as well as content consumers. Yes, I have also had my share of learning from the medium and have come to understand that formats may change but the need for the content to be sticky, is universal. So far, viewers were locked for half an hour daily, with a commitment for many years, giving rise to appointment viewing, which a large part of them have migrated out of.
It’s for this audience that I’m creating binge-worthy programming. The unlearning has been to understand that while TV has to feed a ‘one size fits all’ philosophy, the digital landscape can be customised to suit specific tastes for audiences.
Balaji Telefilms’ TV audience is a set group of people. But the content on the web platform is quite diverse. Was it a conscious decision for ALTBalaji to explore bolder content on the digital platform?
Speaking about the bold content on the platform, I feel, we are a society that asks ‘why do you have to show sex?’ Well, that is the reality of the day. On digital there is no garb, emotions are far more raw because its audiences are accepting of it and in fact identify with it. While on TV the same emotion has a different presentation. Different platforms therefore demand different styles of storytelling.
What were the risk factors you took under consideration when you decided to venture into the digital space?
The biggest challenge for me was to bring my audience from television to the digital medium, build a huge base there and change the whole mindset of how to consume content in the country. It’s such a new space that no one knows what can or cannot work. Which is precisely why it’s perhaps the most exciting medium.
Now since the platform has seen huge success, what will be the mantra going forward?
I am humbled by the love that has come our way, but we believe this is just the start. We’ve got a long journey up ahead. I want to bring some huge disruption in viewing patterns across the digital platform. Break some rules and create new ones only to break them again. That’s the beauty about this content game.