Koode founder dives into data analytics and bets on multiple genres
Bangalore– If the numbers are any indication, then God’s Own Country is becoming a haven for gamers in the OTT space. But not everyone is betting on the must-have OTT films and web series.
Koode, which means “with you” in Malayalam, is a technology-driven OTT platform that uses data insights to grow audience. Koode Founder Radhakrishnan Ramachandran spoke to IANS about the prospects for OTT platforms in the Malayalam language space. Excerpts:
IANS: How did Koode come about when the OTT space already has big names in the fray?
Radhakrishnan A: The reason we considered launching Koode is because the so-called mainstream OTT platforms did not leave enough space for regional language content to grow except for a few languages. Content creators were looking for an alternative platform to express themselves. And we all know that Malayalam probably creates the best content among all Indian languages, if our films are to be believed.
Additionally, we have been in the digital media space for over two decades and have seen the reach of regional language programming. We launched one of the first OTT platforms in India, iStream.com, in 2011. We also manage social video channels for many leading national TV networks.
The reach of many of these regional language channels from YouTube and other social media platforms clearly indicates that regional content will be a huge factor driving content consumption in the OTT and digital space.
IANS: What is the content strategy that Koode has adopted to create its market and stand out from the competition?
RR: We are trying to build a new content ecosystem by bringing together a group of new talent who are looking for an independent alternative platform.
We are building a network of Malayalam content creators. We’ll help these creators produce compelling content – we’ll provide them with infrastructure support and mentors to hone their creative abilities. We have built two such “content spaces” – one in Kochi and the other in Thiruvananthapuram.
Koode will pursue a two-pronged approach: creating original programming with this group of creators and curating content from other social media platforms.
One area we are betting big on is esports and gaming. We recently secured exclusive broadcast rights for one of the biggest gaming events in the country – India Today Esports Premier League (ESPL). It is the first Esports league run by franchisees in India. The idea is to create highly interactive communities that will be part of our platform.
We are also in the process of identifying micro-influencers across the state to work with us and create programs. We use this network to use digital platforms to market and promote content. Additionally, with genres such as games, we hope to create highly interactive communities that will be our brand ambassadors.
Many platforms focus primarily on movies, but we’d like to bet on a wider range – looking at data and analytics. We analyze data to understand the type of content genres our audience watches. We believe that good content will always have takers and experiment with multiple genres.
IANS: How easy or difficult is it for regional language OTTs like Koode when international players also become aggressive towards Indian languages?
RR: Other than a few big-budget films, which they acquired the rights to, none of these platforms focus on original Malayalam programming. We better understand the pulse of the public and have a good relationship with many young and talented creators. So while we may not have the content budgets of these platforms, you will see a lot of great programming coming from Koode.
We also go beyond just showcasing content to deliver immersive experiences, connect local businesses to audiences, and bring communities together for events. Content is just one layer.
As a cutting-edge digital media company, we place great importance on data and analytics. This gives us deep insight into content consumption patterns, which will greatly help us shape our content strategy.
IANS: And how will you approach local competition?
RR: Original programming will be key to our growth. We have already started producing influencer-based shows – two shows are already airing. We are introducing new segments such as crime-based docu-dramas, mini-movies and web series. We will publish them in November.
We will also be launching Koode Kids in association with one of the world’s largest providers of children’s content.
Most of the OTT platforms available today in Malayalam focus exclusively on movies. Many of them are trying to offer an alternative to theaters, which have been closed for some time. You need to have a broader content strategy to stay relevant. Either way, it’s always good to have competition because it grows the market and forces you to innovate.
IANS: Besides content and marketing, what other factors do regional language OTT players like Koode need to consider?
RR: Awareness of OTT products or applications, availability of good internet connections and access to smartphones are high among metro users, while Tier B and C cities are still catching up. Audiences are therefore at different stages of their journey when it comes to adopting streaming services. This itself causes a huge variation in viewership.
Big budget movie releases and sporting events such as the IPL help drive awareness and adoption of these services in Tier B and C cities.
In Kerala, our experience has shown that awareness is high but adoption has its challenges. These are the Tier B and C cities that we are constantly targeting by working with creators of these places, promoting them and collaborating with them. This is where we see the opportunity.
IANS: Now that normality is returning after two years of Covid-19, will OTT continue to maintain viewership numbers?
RR: The last 24 months have seen video consumption multiply. We rode this wave. But even before the pandemic hit, we saw huge traction on platforms like Netflix and Prime. If your content is sticky, OTT platforms will continue to thrive regardless of whether theaters open.
I think regional OTT platforms will grow the same way regional media has grown in other formats. Of course, they will face the same challenges that players in other formats have faced in terms of the size of the market they were addressing. But right now for us it’s all about creating good content for the global Malayali audience. (IANS)