As a part of the streaming platform’s 2.0 avatar, it launched original shows like 'Maharani', 'Scam 1992', 'Rocket Boys' and 'Your Honor'.
Sony Pictures Networks India relaunched its streaming platform in the middle of a raging pandemic in June 2020. SonyLIV's relaunch has borne fruit. The streaming platform has grown from 0.7 million paying subscribers to 18.2 million subscribers.
During the two years since its relaunch, the platform has grown at a CAGR of 38%. A large part of the growth in subscriber base is due to the premium content slate it has offered. It brought in original content like 'Scam 1992', 'Rocket Boys', 'Maharani', among others. It also became the preferred destination for sports enthusiasts, hosting several tournaments.
In an interview with afaqs!, Ranjana Mangla, head of ad revenue, SonyLIV, says it is these originals, reality shows and sporting content that has helped drive ad revenues.
“A lot of our audience comes in to watch our originals, because that's what we really market at scale. Then, they spend a considerable amount of time watching our reality shows, like 'Shark Tank India', 'The Kapil Sharma Show' or 'India’s Best Dancer',” says Mangla.
“So naturally, because the time spent is so high across all this content, it brings in an equally large contribution in ad sales. A lot of our sports content has also been a major growth driver, in terms of ad sales revenue.”
SonyLIV has also been investing heavily in acquiring sports content. From hosting live action cricket, football, tennis, basketball, e-sports and racing sports, it also streamed international tournaments like the UEFA Champions League, Australian Open, Bundesliga, WWE, UFC, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Euro 2020, Tokyo Olympics, Impact Wrestling and The Ashes. It will soon also be streaming the Asian Games.
“These athletic events have become a major driver for brands to associate with India at large. It's less cluttered as compared to cricket,” adds Mangla.
As per an Omdia report, SonyLIV had a 6% share in the online video market in 2021, making it the fifth-largest platform after Disney+Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Zee5. The platform aims to exceed its 38% growth this year. It wants to bring out a variety of content at scale, i.e., at least 8-9 major pieces every month in various languages.
“SonyLIV 2.0 is sharply focused towards being a market leader and is probably the strongest challenger brand to Disney+ Hotstar,” mentions Mangla.
South India is a strong market for the platform, with almost 30% of its subscription base coming from there. The original show 'Rocket Boys', which delves into the lives of scientists Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai, gets 50% of its viewership from the south. It has a major focus on two key markets, Tamil Nadu and Andhra-Telangana, followed by Kerala. It will be launching its south-focussed content in the second half of this year.
“For close to 315 days, we have live sports on our platform. And, the south is a major contributor in sports and progressive content like 'Rocket Boys'. In the second half of the year, we will be launching a lot of originals native to these markets, and will also dub them in multiple languages for the rest of the nation,” says Mangla.
“Native content from a specific market brings not only huge viewership and subscription from that market, but also decent traction from other markets as well. On OTT, language is really not a barrier.”
It is not just the subscribers that are growing, but also the ad sales adoption rate. Mangla says it has become much faster in the last 12-18 months.
“OTT adoption is two-fold. The audience is lapping it up. But now, brands also understand that if they want to talk to the premium affluent mass, which is the top 250 million of this country, they'll have to be on OTT. It is not something that can be avoided in the media campaign anymore.”