Nikhil Madhok, Head- Original Content, Hotstar reveals the sense behind launching Hostages, Hotstar Specials content strategy, competing with other OTT channels, and more.
Hotstar rang in the new year by announcing its foray into original content with Hotstar Specials partnering with storytellers including Shekhar Kapur, Neeraj Pandey, Kabir Khan, Nikkhil Advani, Ram Madhvani, Nagesh Kukunoor, Mahesh Manjrekar, Vishal Furia, Rohan Sippy, Debbie Rao, Sharad Devarajan, and Salman Khan. Since then the OTT platform has launched four shows – Roar of The Lion, Criminal Justice, City of Dreams and the most recent Hostages. Take a look at the Hotstar Specials content strategy.
A crime thriller at its core, the story revolves around the life of a renowned surgeon who is ordered to assassinate the chief minister, in exchange for the survival of her family. Created by Applause Entertainment, ‘Hostages’ features powerhouse talent like Tisca Chopra and Ronit Roy as leads with Parvin Dabas, Aashim Gulati, Mohan Kapoor, Malhaar Rathod, Sharad Joshi, DalipTahil, Surya Sharma, Anangsha Biswas in pivotal roles and will be streaming from 31st May. The show will be available in multiple Indian languages on Hotstar VIP.
Insight behind launching ‘Hostages’
The rationale behind launching Hostages, as Nikhil Madhok, Head- Original Content, Hotstar shared is that in the OTT space was lacking was a real high-quality thriller and this story in his opinion is a complete binge-worthy page turner.
He added, “What you can expect is 10 episodes which will make you completely binge watch the content. It fits into our overall philosophy of providing variety with more Indian stories created by talented storytellers.”
The response for earlier three original shows
Madhok asserted that all three shows (Roar of The Lion, Criminal Justice, City of Dreams) have done well in different ways and have helped Hotstar in adding a lot of subscribers to its VIP service.
Especially calling out to Vikrant Massey starrer Criminal Justice, Madhok shared that the show has done exceptionally well. “In the last two-three years if you look at the OTT space this one is really a big hit,” he exclaimed.
Content strategy for ‘Hotstar Specials’
According to Madhok, the strategy is to ‘Be Bold’ in storytelling and present a variety of bold Indian stories with talented storytellers. For Hotstar to be able to provide variety its important for them to be able to tell stories across formats and genres. “We had a sports docudrama which is an unusual way to launch the category, and then there was a family drama proceeded with a crime story and now we have a thriller. Coming up next is a comedy”.
As far as bringing in overseas stories to India is concerned, both Criminal Justice and Hostage are international formats and have been adapted by Hotstar Specials. The platform believes that the core of the story is very Universal.
The Content production value and ROI
With quality production, the cost per episode also goes up. Though Madhok couldn’t share the exact individual cost, he stated that a bare minimum that is required to create a certain quality. But the investment in different shows differs depending on the nature of the show. For instance; an international action series will require a different scale and if it’s a sitcom, that would be different.
For Hotstar, more than the return of investment, the most important thing is these shows winning them consumers attention. He added, “Also are they loving the shows enough to become paid members of our VIP service. These are the very important parameters”.
The way forward…
When quizzed about where he would like to see Hotstar 5 years from now and are they aiming to take it head on with the streaming giants Netflix and Amazon Prime, Madhok shared, “For us to think how we will stack up against the competition is a wrong way to think. From a point of view of our consumers, we will continue to be the most preferred OTT service in the country.”
Further, he claimed that right now as things stand Hotstar especially from India perspective is far ahead of the game in terms of audiences’ love and subscribers.