Anirban Roy ChoudhuryPublished: 30 Oct 2019, 12:00 AM
Interviews

“For documentaries, there are awards and festivals but no platform:” Akul Tripathi, DocuBay

August this year, IN10 Media which is promoted by Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra Group and Aditya Pittie of Pittie Group rolled out DocuBay, a video on demand streaming platform. IN10 media runs and operates niche television channel Epic TV. While other broadcasters launched over the top streaming services as an extension of the television offering, IN10 had different plans. In fact, the Epic TV content is not even available on DocuBay while catch up TV is a big contributor to Star India’s Hotstar, or Zee’s ZEE5 and the likes.

Also Read: "There is so much more to infotainment": Aditya Pittie, Epic TV

Available in over 180 countries, DocuBay streams documentaries across genres. Available at Rs 499 for three months and Rs 1499 for a year, it is a membership-video-on-demand-platform. It promises to add a new film everyday and the responsibility of finding a suitable one and making it available for the members lies on Akul Tripathi, COO, DocuBay. He also heads the content programming for Epic TV and has been in the media and entertainment industry for over 20 years.

In a country where more than 35 OTT platforms are already streaming, DocuBay adds to the tally. However, Tripathi believes, DocuBay’s positioning makes it unique as there is hardly any other service globally which is only streaming documentaries and non-fiction content. Founder and former chairman of Discovery Channel, John Hendricks launched CuriosityStream in 2015. Headquartered in Maryland, US, it is also a platform that only streams non-fiction content, however, Tripathi believes there is a difference between the two. He spoke about DocuBay, its content and competition, here are the edited excerpts:

It has been a couple of months you have launched, what’s the initial reaction like?

Overall, whoever has seen it, heard it said they love the idea. They are finding a dedicated place for documentaries and that is something they are all thrilled about. This is a new opportunity which did not exist before. None of the other video streaming platforms are built for discovery of documentaries. Yes, there are some streaming on them but that is not what they are built for. The initial response has been encouraging and heartening.

Do you see demand for the content you are offering?

Non fiction programming on streaming platforms, globally has increased over the years. There is a market for it, however, globally, there has never been anything made only for non fiction. Recently, we have seen curiosity stream coming up but that is more, “tell me how” or “did you know” kind of positioning. Feature documentaries have always been neglected. There are festivals for them, there are awards for them but there is no platform for them there is a gap.

Where do you see the traction coming from?

What we have seen so far is that there are people coming in from smaller towns as well as metros. Given the concentration of population and the availability of better bandwidth, logically, metros is where we should encounter a larger traction. However, it is a completely new offering for a lot a places and with the increase of connectivity we are looking at the whole of India.

“For documentaries, there are awards and festivals but no platform:” Akul Tripathi, DocuBay

Where are you getting the content that is streaming on the platform?

The content currently streaming on the platform are all acquired. It is all licensed, global content. We believe issues, opportunities and celebrations and general feelings is common across the globe. We have far more in common that we can relate to despite a geographical barrier. Development in one part of the world directly affect those in other parts. These shared experiences is what we believe puts people together as one tribe. These shared experiences of one tribe are the type of content that we align to put on the platform. This is not a content that is relevant to you because you come from a particular place these are broader issues that you may have an interest in or you realise they affect you. These range from Science to human emotions. We have content from over 100 countries streaming on the platform and that is going to increase.

Aren’t you looking at local content for India, do you intend to commission documentaries?

There will definitely be an element of localisation that would emerge going forward. We are looking at DocuBay from a global point of view, India is a very encouraging market, it is our home base and there are advantages that we would like to garner around. Commissioning is a part of our future strategy and something we are looking forward to.

What explains your pricing of RS 499 per month and Rs 1499 per year?

We are a membership video on demand service and not a SVOD service. Apart from streaming videos, in a membership video on demand service there are many other activities that the members can be a part of. We are going to roll out membership programmes in the future. Keeping that in mind, the structure is designed to create a community of like minded people. It is not transactional that I come, watch and go away. To experience a membership platform and what it entails it requires one to stay at least three months on the platform and that is why we do not have a short-term membership.

You promise your members to add a new documentary every day, is there enough content available for you to do that?

Absolutely. Where do all the documentary films that are made go? Where do you go and search for them? Where do you watch them? One of the strengths of DocuBay is that we curate it. . Sales and distribution guys are sending us films, independent documentary makers are pitching us...We are watching hundreds of documentaries which we are getting from all across the world and then working hard to create a collection of films that stand apart. DocuBay is that one place where you will get to watch a documentary you want to and at the same time you will get exposed to a lot more documentaries that you wouldn’t have otherwise watched. There are many films that are streaming on our platform which are not available anywhere else. Then there might be some which are available on certain SVOD services.

TV channels like Nat Geo and Discovery dominate the space, how is DocuBay different?

Our content is not what you find on a Discovery or Nat Geo. They are not explainer videos, they are not trying to tell you why the world is the way it is or why a particular animal in Africa is on the list of endangered species. Yes, in DocuBay there will be documentaries about the endangered species but the treatment to it would be far different than just being knowledgeable.

“For documentaries, there are awards and festivals but no platform:” Akul Tripathi, DocuBay

Though DocuBay is a non-fiction platform yet there are so many other OTT platforms in India, what is your view on competition?

In the age that we are living in now, I am even competing with sleep as that is taking one away from my platform. Everybody is competition as we are looking for eyeballs. DocuBay will have a very specific audience set, people who are passionate about a particular thing. Documentary watching audiences are a community by themselves right now. Of course there would be movement and people would come from other platforms too and then we have new people being added to the Internet. Our advantage is that we have a very clear and specific offering which is identifiable and differentiated.