Anirban Roy Choudhury

Tata Sky launches 'Binge' on Mobile; "Consumers want to pay only once for content across platforms": Pallavi Puri

Chief Commercial and Content Officer, Tata Sky says the consumers wanted a product like 'Binge' available on the go and that is what prompted the DTH giant to launch Binge Mobile App.

India has 7.07 crore direct-to-home (DTH) subscribers and Tata Sky is the largest player in the country with a 32.58 per cent market share. When the largest DTH player launches one after another 'Binge' offering, it raises eyebrows. Binge though means to eat or drink too much, especially without being able to control, in the content consumption world, it is a term used to explain the phenomenon of watching one after another episode of an OTT show. Contrary to the appointment viewing concept in Indian television that Tata Sky distributes to more than 2.1 crore subscribers.

Tata Sky recently announced the extension of its OTT content aggregator service, ‘Tata Sky Binge,’ to mobile with the introduction of 'Binge Mobile App'. The mobile application, available on android and iOS will allow Tata Sky subscribers to access Disney+ Hotstar Premium, ZEE5, SunNxt, Hungama Play, Eros Now, ShemarooMe, Voot Select, Voot Kids, SonyLIV and CuriosityStream content for a subscription fee of Rs 299. This comes two years after Tata Sky first launched 'Binge' on a Fire TV Stick.

With this mobile offering, Tata Sky intends to provide "quality OTT content" on one app for a single monthly payment. Pallavi Puri, Chief Commercial and Content Officer, Tata Sky says the consumers wanted a product like 'Binge' available on the go and that is what prompted the DTH giant to launch it. She feels this product will open up the universe as other Binge offerings needed broadband or high-speed internet connection to seamlessly stream contrnt on large TV screens.

In an interview with afaqs!, Puri speaks about the target group and why it is important for a platform like Tata Sky to have a strong portfolio of OTT content.

Edited excerpts:

What triggered Tata Sky to roll out a concept like 'Binge' providing OTT content?

A couple of years ago, we launched Tata Sky Binge on a special Fire TV Stick edition. The interest in OTT content was growing and we wanted to leverage our relationships with the partners and the consumer insights that we had in terms of content preferences. We partnered with the best OTT players in the country so that in one platform we could offer to the consumer the best of OTT content. That is how Tata Sky Binge came into being.

Tata Sky launches 'Binge' on Mobile; "Consumers want to pay only once for content across platforms": Pallavi Puri

Tata Sky is a medium that connects content to television, what makes you expand to Binge Mobile?

First we asked them for the subscription fee and we said the Fire TV Stick will come along so that the consumer can watch their favourite OTT content on the large screen as they would watch television content in one interface. Then last year we launched Binge Plus which is an android hybrid set top box. Since the consumer would need to handle multiple remotes if they are using Fire TV Stick, so we launched a common box through which one can access the live TV content as well as the OTT shows on the large screen and navigate with one remote. But then in this country, a lot of the OTT consumption is on mobile and we heard our customers who said that they want an on-the-move experience of Tata Sky Binge. Thus it was a natural extension for us to launch Binge on the mobile as well.

Is this Tata Sky Binge Mobile pack only available to the existing Tata Sky subscribers? Why should one download the app and subscribe to it?

Yes, this is a service for Tata Sky subscribers only. Over the years we have evolved across devices. And during this time period, we've also kept adding new apps as they entered the country. On the mobile, we are also offering a choice of plans, and depending on the plan, one gets access to the content provided by various apps. It's one mobile app, and you have access to content depending on the plan. One can choose Rs 149 plan for seven apps or Rs 299 plan for 10. They need to pay once and all the content gets aggregated on one platform. Consumers can simply search by genre and all the content across different OTT players will get lined up for the customer to choose from.

Who is this Tata Sky Binge Mobile targetted to and at this price point?

We always had one Rs 299 plan but when we decided to launch the mobile app, we rolled out another Rs 149 plan with content from seven apps. The objective of doing that is to appeal to a larger audience because when we launched the Fire TV Stick and Binge Plus, it was more targeted to the urban-metro customer as they needed a broadband connection. So with this, we are basically targeting the Tata Sky customers who have a smartphone.

Why is it important for a television content distributor like Tata Sky to have a strong portfolio of OTT content while most of the revenue still comes from TV content?

We are a content distributor and device and means agnostic. So just like we distribute live TV content via the set-top box for the consumer to consume on the large screen we are doing it for OTT content. We simply want to be the one-stop destination for all Tata Sky customers when it comes to their content requirements. Today, it is a mix of both - live TV and OTT and that is why we are distributing both.

But in the case of TV, channels themselves do not own distribution platforms, so, they are dependent on Tata Sky. OTTs, on the other hand, are platforms distributing content. What if tomorrow they opt-out?

So the way we look at it is that it's really a win-win for the content partner as we know our customers, we are already present in their home, we have a relationship with them and the customer is looking for is convenience. They are searching for the ability to pay one platform once and get access to most of the content across genres. For the OTT partners, we are simply complementing. This is an additional subscription or the revenue that we bring to the partner, beyond what they are raking. For us, we are meeting a huge consumer need.

Are these long-term revenue share deals?

Yes, these are long-term revenue share deals and we keep renewing them with our partners.

Where will the subscribers of this Tata Sky Binge Mobile come from? Will they be the first-time SVOD consumers or simply another option for the top of the pyramid who consume OTT content regularly?

I think it will be a mix of both. With the new Rs 149 plan, we expect to really expand the market so that it is not restricted to the Tata Sky customers who have already subscribed to OTT. We expect it to be not just limited to the top tier, one tier or two towns, because this is something that you can even consume over mobile internet.

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