Digital Entertainment Company, Pocket Aces, which runs popular YouTube channels, Dice Media and Filter copy has now associated with Greek Yogurt brand, Epigamia, and self-drive car rental e-commerce player, Zoomcar for its upcoming web series - 'What the Folks'. The web series will be available on its channel, Dice Media and is 'A dice original series'. The YouTube channel has 294,319 subscribers and has garnered 20,658,947 views (until this report was filed).
The series follows the role reversal journey of a husband who has to go and spend a month with his in-laws without his wife. "We see Saas-Bahu dramas on television every day, they don't cater to the young audience of the country and that's when we thought of doing this show. We have put our lives in this show; a lot of things you see are actually bits and pieces of my encounters with my in-laws," says Ashwin Suresh, co-founder, Pocket Aces.
Web series in India have already had a roller coaster ride; few went deep inside audience hearts, while few failed to garner any attention. Karan Johar went as far as to say, "What fails to become a movie or a TV series ends up being a web series."
"He is right, and if you see those web series, they never work, Balaji has made a few of them where they took film stories and turned it to a web series. We do not make such web series," asserts Suresh.
Digital content creators make money through brand integrations where they embed the brand as a part of the story. Then they make revenue through distribution platforms such as, Facebook and YouTube. "With our earlier series Little Things, we also published a book that we are looking at merchandising as a source of revenue. This one you will see on television, too, so we get to make money through syndication as well," Suresh adds.
"Web series are not 'massively profitable' at this stage, but we cover our costs. As the subscriber base grows further and we get more viewers the business scenario will change," Suresh informs.
Producing a web series is the most expensive part of the business, it involves shooting, casting, editing and other pre- and post-production aspects. Suresh does not believe in going fancy and spending all on that front, he says, "Production value is always over-rated in India, audiences do not really care about it so long as you tell the story seamlessly. 'Little Things' was mostly shot in a room and we have seen it going viral. We are always budgeting, we set aside a budget for every aspect and we stick to it throughout," informs Suresh.
'What the folk' is mostly shot indoors and in Mumbai, while for the outdoor scenes the crew traveled to the outskirts of Maharashtra.
Title sponsor Epigamia, is a Greek yogurt brand from the stable of Drums Food and the purpose of this association is to generate awareness. The brand has been working with Pocket Aces for various content marketing initiatives since the past six months. Siddharth Menon, chief marketing officer, Epigamia, feels organic brand placement is key in a web series, "Yes, we have had our demands in terms of the number of times a brand should be shown per episode and all, but it is then left for the creators to integrate it organically."
While the other brand on board, Zoomcar, is mainly focused on promoting its new business initiatives. The self-driven car rental platform has recently launched verticals like 'airport drops' and 'one-way trips' and this series promotes the new initiatives through the story.
"We have had associations with TVF (The Viral Fever) in the past and we have seen that the integrations help us to fetch immediate results. Our organic downloads went up, the number of bookings went up and that is why, we decided to associate with a web series again," says Harish Rawat, chief marketing officer, Zoomcar.
He adds, "Web series is a cheaper alternative to television and hence, for startups like us, investing on a web series works and gives immediate results."
It remains to be seen if 'What the Folks' can match or go beyond what they achieved with Mithila Palkar starrer 'Little Things'.