Fabform – an independent digital content network – is the brainchild of Vishal Mull and Pratiek Mehta. The firm’s subsidiary The Comic Wallah has been gathering views for one-of-its-kind seven-day seven shows format on its YouTube channel. Popular actors Krystle D’souza, Nitibha Kaul, Siddharth Bannerjee and Arjun Fauzdar are doing individual shows on it.
TheDigitalHash caught up with the founder duo at their office, amidst some brainstorming meetings with the staff.
Vishal you have been associated with TV shows, while Pratiek you have been handling talent. How did you two come up with the idea of Fabform?
Vishal: Fabform is a shorter version Fabulous formats. We both wanted to do something in the web space. As per a research we conducted, the youth has an attention span of 5-6 minutes on their mobile phone. And hence, we have stuck to short video format. Going forward with the ‘unique concepts’ idea, we introduced the seven-day seven shows format.
Pratiek: With the changes happening around us, we wanted to marry content and talent with this venture. Our target audiences are between the ages of 16-30 years. The youth connects with edgy content. With this short format, they can sample our content and can come back if they like it.
In the three months since inception, what have been your learnings?
Pratiek: (Smiles) We have to innovate constantly, as each day brings a new challenge. To be discovered on YouTube is a tough task, as internet is moving faster than all of us. The revenue models today are very different than when we started.
Vishal: The hardship that we face is reach. Research says that every minute thousands of hours of entertainment is uploaded online. We have to stand-out of the (content) clutter.
What are your five year goals?
Pratiek: We are hoping to be a video destination for youth for on-the-go content. We also have dreams to have our own app, someday (chuckles).
Vishal: Don’t know about five years (Laughs). But we are currently in the second phase of programming and will be collaborating with top TV stars. We will launch our romance reality series House of Connections, which will talk of relationships and career. Apart from that a fiction show is also in the pipeline. In accordance with the response, we will move forward.
What are your plans to tap the ‘drama’ and documentary arena in the web space with more subsidiaries?
Pratiek: We want to do that, as our aim is to be a multi-channel network, but want to build The Comic Wallah first – which is on a lighter side.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of having one actor/actress helming a web series each?
Vishal: Earlier, TRPs drove an actor’s career, but now it is their social media following and fan base that makes a difference. Krystle D’souza has made her digital debut with us and her fans love this avatar of hers. But we haven’t witness any disadvantages (Pratiek nods in unison).
With Netflix and Amazon making original content for India, how does it affect you?
Vishal: All big corporations are in a dilemma because digital is taking away their audiences. It is a wide spectrum and they (Netflix, Amazon, et al) have deeper pockets. But it is a number driven game. Netflix has only 40,000 subscribers, whereas YouTube is way ahead in that. Also, people in India are still coming to terms to paying for streaming. Within the next 5 years, people will open their wallets for streaming.
Pratiek: Currently, these streaming companies are class-driven, but we want to cater to the masses. While they are subscription based, we are at high street (YouTube).
Should there be censorship for the digital medium?
Vishal: 100%. Many broadcasters think they can go berserk, but advertisers don’t go to such companies.
Pratiek: Censorship has become a joke. Though I agree to what Vishal said, in terms of broadcasters streaming below par content. But the medium should not have censor.
When such disagreements happen, how do you reach common ground?
Vishal: (Laughs) We always find a way. We both are committed to this little baby (Fabform). But having Pratiek by my side, I get a viewer’s perspective. He is my bouncing ball.