Video streaming service Hooq is pivoting from its earlier branding to focus on Hollywood. “We will be the home of premium Hollywood content in India,” Hooq’s new India managing director Zulfiqar Khan tells indianexpress.com, adding that English content lends beautifully to the strengths of this platform. Hooq has been around for a while in India, but has never been as popular as Netflix or Hotstar.
Khan, who took over a few months back after many years with Star, says the Indian audience has clearly changed and with the exposure that has come in the recent years has started demanding quality stuff. “There is so much disruption happening and there is so much exposure enabled by technology,” Khan adds. This also means that Hooq will vacate the space of regional and Hindi content. “We believe that the Indian consumer would move towards global content,” explains Khan. “Our understanding of content is that you put something out and the audience say this is what they want to see, or over a period of time you condition them to consume a certain type of content,” he says.
Hooq’s focus on Hollywood means a lot of DC box sets, as well as popular series like Big Bang Theory and Friends, will now be available exclusively on the platform. “We are also looking at same day releases for big launches,” he explains how Hooq is consolidating its offering from TV to blockbusters. This will be the differentiator. Khan says over 95 per cent of the content on the platform will now be exclusive and most of the big shows will be day and date, which means it will be available almost the same day as the global launch.
“We want to have a wider spectrum of offering, which plays out in different layers,” Khan says, underlining that India is also a very complex market with different tastes. “We have a slightly larger range of content and are hoping that potential users will find their one peg out there,” he says, adding how that one peg leads to discovery of other stuff.
Thanks to binge-watching, Khan says the growth metric they look at is time spent and this is where series content is really working in India. “One is that I can get 5 million people to come in, but if they are not spending enough time then there is something fundamentally wrong,” Khan says.
In a couple of weeks, Hooq is expected to make an announcement that improves the delivery and discovery of the platform. While tight-lipped on what this new strategy will be, Khan opens up that mobile is clearly the device where content is being consumed. In fact, Hooq is the first to offer a progressive web app (PWA) for mobile users which negates the need for downing an app.
“The moment we launched the PWA, we say a spike.” Also, there are other insights, like more consumption among users with premium devices, showing that cost of data is still a thing for most users in India. “The set of people cutting the cord is every increasing, for them we have to enable the big screen too,” he says, dropping another hint on what the announcement could be. According to PwC, India is expected to enter the top 10 OTT markets in India within four years with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23 per cent. In 2017, US topped the list followed by China and Japan.