Benita Chacko

aha's new price plans to offer consumers' better experience, more value: CK Rakesh

The head - SVOD and business strategy speaks about the OTT platform's price hike for its Gold pack and its latest ad-free annual pack.

Last week, aha revised its price plans for its Telugu OTT offering. The company increased the price for its Gold pack, the premium package offering unlimited access to both its Telugu and Tamil platforms, from Rs 699 to Rs 899. In addition, aha introduced an ad-free annual pack priced at Rs 699.

While the move is anticipated to eventually boost the platform's revenue, Rakesh CK, senior vice president and head - SVOD and business strategy, emphasises that from the customer's standpoint, it is intended to create better value for them across all price points and ecosystems.

According to Rakesh, "There's a set of audience who are willing to look at the experience beyond just the pricing. Rather than just another pricing, our intent with the Gold plan's pricing hike is to build a better experience. The outcome on revenue is just an additional layer, it's not something that we are working towards as such."

aha's new price plans to offer consumers' better experience, more value: CK Rakesh

aha originally launched the Gold plan in 2022. It has now increased the price and added more benefits to make it more valuable. The gold plan already offered tangible benefits like ad-free experience, better quality streaming (4K Ultra HD), and Dolby audio. It has now added early access to content and other intangible offerings like arranging celebrity meet and greets and attending aha commissioned shows.

Rakesh says the introduction of the mobile-only plan (Rs 99) in April 2023 was the first ecosystem it addressed, in a bid to make it more accessible for everyone.

aha's new price plans to offer consumers' better experience, more value: CK Rakesh

Around 10% (5 million) of the country's OTT paying subscribers are based out of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. aha's strategy revolves around tailoring offerings that appeal to these demographics and encourage subscriptions.

Gold subscriptions presently account for 15-17% of aha's monthly subscriptions. Rakesh anticipates that the revised prices will not only boost their average revenue per user (ARPU) but also contribute to subscriber base growth.

In January 2022, Netflix had increased its subscription price in the US and Canada. This was attributed as a major factor in its loss of 1 million subscribers in the first two quarters of the year. However, two weeks since the launch of the new price plans, Rakesh is confident that the subscriptions will only grow further.

"We haven't yet marketed the new Gold offering, but it has been live on our platform. So far we haven't really witnessed a drop in subscriptions and it continues to see traction. We believe people are already seeing the value. Now, when we promote it, we only expect it to grow further," he adds.

aha Telugu's new plans
aha Telugu's new plans

Similarly, Disney+ Hotstar has recently increased its subscription prices in India. Rakesh points out that while television operates with a well-established revenue model, OTT businesses are oriented towards long-term growth, and achieving profitability may span several years.

"It took years for Netflix to turn profitable. We are all on a path to profitability eventually. But we have to ensure that the users also see value in our price points. If we suddenly increase prices because we want to be profitable it wont work, because consumers have to adopt this medium," he explains.

Seeking its next big growth opportunity among ad-supported video on demand (AVoD) consumers, aha opened its doors to advertising in August 2022. However, 80% of its revenue still comes from subscriptions. It intends to continually grow its non-subscription revenue, while continuing to grow its core subscription video on demand (SVoD) business. However, Rakesh says that in the near future, aha will continue to be a SVoD-first platform.

"AVoD has allowed us to offer our consumers certain price points, which would otherwise have not been tenable for us. It has helped us make up for the gap in revenue that we are experiencing because we have not increased the prices," he says.

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