Since April, a lot has happened on the ALT Balaji front. The company first launched a couple of web series, headlined by Nimrat Kaur’s ‘The Test Case’. Later on, there was an announcement that there will be close to 32 web series. ALT Balaji is an ambitious project, even for a company that changed the very tone of television entertainment. It wants an entire fan-base to subscribe per month to consume content via the Internet. Internet prices aren’t the cheapest in India. Add to that the 30 odd rupees ALT Balaji wants the audience to pay for their content, it does come up to a decent amount per year.
In almost a month, the numbers speak for themselves, at least the ones that are available. Most of the ALT Balaji series, including the Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar are available on YouTube and the views are impressive. The most publicized ‘The Test Case’ isn’t available anywhere – apart from the ALT Balaji website. There is no way of getting viewership numbers, like how one would see on YouTube.
There have been stumbling blocks for the venture too. The premiere of the series happened a week after the actual show hit the streaming screens. We understand that India has not seen the launch of a web series at such a grand scale, so we can’t speak from precedence. But it is weird that a series had a premiere after the actual launch.
Some industry insiders have been chirping about how there’s been a clash between the people helming projects and people heading the entire thing. Case in point is a sequence from one of the series that talk about an extra-marital affair.
The director envisioned one of the sequences in the film noir kind, there was some disagreements. Someone wanted the sequence to channel the old Indian love-lorn sequences.
Such an incredible difference of opinion is rare to come by. For someone to talk about it is unbelievable.
It is surprising that ALT Balaji is looking for investors within just two months of launch. This isn’t just a rumour in the wind – Axis Capital is already on board as bankers. In a BSE filing, the company has said that several financial and strategic investors have expressed interest to partner with ALT Balaji. Looking for investors so early in the business – or at least reaching out to them – is against the fundamental desi principles of business. One of the thumb rules of doing business in India is that any project requires a maturity of at least 2 years. It is only after that time frame that the true potential of a particular property is unleashed and accepted by people with the green bucks.
This could be the first web success story for India, but the one point that’s niggling is the non disclosure of numbers by ALT Balaji. It has refused to disclose the number of subscribers for their channel. We cannot even see how many people are viewing their most publicized series, ‘The Test Case’.
Unless Balaji decides to cough up the numbers, we are taking this success story with a pinch of salt.