Benita Chacko

hoichoi to double its investment in Bangladesh

As it completes five years, co-founder Vishnu Mohta announces that the Bengali OTT platform has turned profitable. 

At a time when most major OTT platforms in the country are struggling to hold on to their subscriber base and are prioritising an advertising-driven model, hoichoi, the subscription-only Bengali OTT platform turned profitable in August 2022, its fifth year in the business.

Vishnu Mohta, co-founder, hoichoi, says it is tough for any digital business to break even in the initial few years. More so for OTT platforms as they are creating a new market rather than just tapping into an existing market. He attributes this success to the audience's trust in the platform. 

"We promised the audience new content every week and we have always delivered it from our inception. So its become a one-stop shop for all those who want to consume Bengali content. It has managed to create a top of mind recall for Bengalis," he says. 

Beyond content, its also the platform's branding and customer support that has worked in its favour. "We are in the boredom killing business and OTT is the most personal form of content. So the brand needs to be like a friend. Accordingly, we have created a local, conversational and personal experience," he says.

It has also invested heavily on customer support and in its sixth year also plans to launch an automated bot system for 24/7 customer support. "We have invested more on customer support than on marketing. We go out of our way to respond to our users. We have people living in different time zones, so with the soon-to-be launched bot system we will be able to address the users real-time round the clock," he adds. 

Over the past year, hoichoi has seen a 50 per cent growth in direct subscriptions with a 20 per cent month on month increase in watch time. There has been a 40 per cent rise in monthly active users and a 40 per cent rise in international yearly subscriber base. Along with this, hoichoi continues to have one of the highest refresh rates in India for a single language with close to 5-7 titles which includes Original shows, World Premiere Movies and Hindi Dubbed Originals releasing every month. 

August marked the highest recorded direct subscription revenue till date, across all three of its user base regions, namely - India, Bangladesh and International markets, all of which contribute to over a 100 per cent increase in growth. It was twice as much as its revenue in March 2020, which was during the Covid-19 induced lockdown. 

hoichoi has announced 25 new shows (21 from India and four from Bangladesh) for the coming year. Bangladesh forms an important market for the OTT platform as it contributes to at least 15-20 per cent of its revenue, the largest from an international market. Its a unique space for an Indian OTT platform to occupy and hoichoi sees massive potential there. It intends to double its investments there every year.

"A country of 160 million people and all of them speak the same language. It is also the fastest growing economy in Asia. It might be behind India in terms of data speed and data costs. But once it catches up it will be a large market. It will be a key driver of growth for us going forward," he says. 

hoichoi invested in Bangladesh about three years back and also had to create the infrastructure there. "Its easier to enter a market that is already developed. Its harder to create that market," Mohta says.

Overall at least 40-50 per cent of hoichoi's revenue comes from its international subscribers. Bengali is the fifth most-spoken language in the world, with approximately 300 million native speakers globally. "We always wanted to be a global brand and take our stories to the world," he adds. 

As it enters its sixth year, hoichoi launched its revamped android user interface to provide the best user experience. It will also be launching a revamped website in a month or two.

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