Co-founder of the Indian video streaming service says people will think of Hoichoi when they think Bangla content
With over 220 million native speakers, you would think Bangla content creation has a massive market. Hoichoi co-founder Vishnu Mohta thinks exactly that, and since its launch in 2017, the OTT platform has been vying to become the go-to place for the Bangla language audience worldwide.
A clean and crisp website and an easy to use mobile app make Hoichoi look fit for its era. The content in their variety and quality seem ready to live up to the expectations of 2020 audiences: high resolution videos, movies and series in all the popular genres -- delivered through a fast-responsive interface. But will these attract the ‘legacy’ crowd?
Vishnu, however, is not afraid of alienating any part of the demographic. He almost laughed off the prospect of being ‘too hip’ for the older crowd. “A large percentage of our audience is in the over 60 age-group,” he said. “And they love it.”
Slow smartphone penetration in Bangladesh, where the population makes up at least half of Hoichoi’s market, doesn’t give Vishnu a pause either. Streaming is definitely the future, regardless of the variables. “Look, it’s going to happen two days later, if it’s not happening today,” he said.
For Hoichoi, ‘today’ seems to be already here given how it acquired 13 million cumulative subscribers to date, only 3 years after the platform was launched. The idea of catering only to the Bangla speaking audience panned out pretty well for Hoichoi. Vishnu says, not only this model makes sense for Hoichoi’s parent company SVF, which had been making Bangla language film for 25 years, but this is the only model that makes sense for them. “We would not have it any other way,” Vishnu told Dhaka Tribune.
Like all successful ideas, this seems obvious in retrospect that Vishnu was right. There is now little doubt that Hoichoi has struck gold. The numbers don’t lie. And that is why the platform is doubling down on its forward stride. For the upcoming season, Hoichoi announced 25 original web series.
“Taking web content to a new level, hoichoi announces its collaboration with creators like Ashfaque Nipun, Syed Ahmad Shawki, Saleh Sobhan Auneem, Mizanur Rahman Aryan, Tanim Noor, Krishnendu Chattopadhyay among others,” a press release from the company reads. The platform is looking to add an impressive catalogue to its existing archive of 60 original web series, 14 original films and over 500 movies.
While the quality and quantity of the content are obviously crucial for a streaming service, it amounts to nothing if the tech is not right. Content is only part of the equation, albeit a big part. Hoichoi just announced that it is in the process of upgrading its UI (user interface) using “the newest technology and tools available,” ensuring the other part of the equation is not neglected.
“These three years have been the most rewarding years of my life and I am proud of how far we’ve come in this short time,” Vishnu said. When the platform’s uninterrupted success met a global virus outbreak, it apparently provided a stimulus, instead of a snag.
After the pandemic broke out in March, Hoichoi, not unlike other providers, took it up as an opportunity to entertain its audience more.
“In the last six months, we have continued to release many Word Digital Premiere Movies, original shows and films as well as most recently our newest property – First Day First Show – for direct-to-digital films. Today, as the world starts to open up and we look forward to Year 4 of Hoichoi, I am really excited about the shows and films we have planned, which I believe comprise our best content lineup so far,” said Vishnu.
Hoichoi hopes its partnership with leading telecom providers in the Middle East and Bangladesh will help them reach even more consumers. Hoichoi has subscribers in 100 odd countries including in Japan, Sweden, Argentina, and Iceland. “All this sets us up for our next phase of growth taking us closer to our vision of entertaining people in their own local language,” said the Hoichoi co-founder.
Only time can tell if the platform will continue to reach a broad audience, while striving to retain its 13 million subscribers, which is no mean feat. But for now, Hoichoi seems to be making the right kind of noise.