We have seen how OTT platforms with bold, gripping and innovative narratives have captured the hearts of millions across India during the pandemic-induced lockdown. FLYX, an app that helps you find the best streaming content, has recorded over 45,000 downloads and 35,000 email sign-ups in the five months since its launch. FLYX, which aspires to be the “next big social influencer platform” centred on OTT and targets a reach of 2.5 million users by end of 2021, is the official partner for the debutant Filmfare OTT awards announced recently. ottwatcher.com catches up with FLYX Co-founder-CEO Shashank Singh to know more about FLYX and the awards. Excerpts:
What according to you are the ways in which OTT platforms are democratizing the film industry?
The arrival of the OTT platforms has been a boon for the Indian movie industry. There can be no getting away from the fact that the Indian film industry is the heartbeat of people in India and holds a very important place in their lives but with the advent of COVID and theatres shutting down for a long period of time, OTT platforms have flourished and taken over the entertainment space in a big way. The changes brought by OTT platforms have been significant and gone a long way in democratizing the film industry. Content is of utmost importance today. The remote control is now in the hands of the masses, thanks to OTT platforms. Hence, it is content which is the king and it is all about great storytelling.
OTTs have also helped bridge the gap between an established ‘star’ and an upcoming actor. Being content-driven, the audiences have welcomed and are increasingly recognising budding artists without any apprehensions on whether there is a ‘star’ tag attached to them.
OTT platforms are inherently technologically advanced and have the capability to better understand their consumer. Neutral platforms such as FLYX play a vital role in better understanding the needs of consumers and showcasing the right recommendations at the right time. The future is going to be all about personalized experiences and instant gratification.
What inspired you to launch FLYX? Please tell us about the journey.
The idea of FLYX was born out of the real struggle to find something worthy to watch and we eventually ended up asking our friends and family for suggestions. A leading research firm mentioned that two-thirds of our streaming habit is influenced by friends and family, and we all have anecdotally experienced that most of our social conversation revolves around what someone is watching on TV. Word of mouth has been the best way to discover new content and hidden gems.
The core principle of FLYX is to reduce time in decision-making and discover great content to watch based on your personal taste and recommendations from people you trust. There are a plethora of options available in the market today but none of them have a great social experience. There is a huge need for a social platform where people can connect with people they trust and discuss and share their thoughts and views on movies and shows
FLYX is a one-of-its-kind, highly interactive, and fun social-platform, where users can engage with their friends and followers through stories, chats, group chats, create shareable lists, watch trailers, read interesting news and exchange notes and comments with followers about the new and upcoming releases.
What kind of trends are you foreseeing in the film industry, especially with regard to OTT platforms, post-Covid-19?
The streaming wars were already getting fiercer but with COVID-19 lockdowns, it has come to the forefront. In the last five years, according to Newsweek, the streaming industry has spent more than $650 billion in content acquisitions and creation to woo consumers. All this has done is to add more content in front of users resulting in a “content overload”. Content and costs represent the biggest factors in what makes people subscribe to a streaming video service, but another equally important factor is the ease of use where technology becomes the differentiating factor.
To study the consumer behaviour during the pandemic, we conducted a survey with respondents between the age group of 18-65, who were students, professionals, business owners and self-employed, amongst others. The respondents primarily belonged to major cities of India including Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata, where, 56% were male and 42% were female
The survey revealed that there has been a spike in both purchase of OTT subscriptions and viewing hours amongst Indian users. Over 50% respondents shared that they have purchased new subscriptions during the pandemic, along with a 5x increase in those spending 16+ hours weekly and a 4x increase in those spending 12-16 hours weekly on OTT platforms.
Deloitte in its recent digital trends survey found that streaming during COVID-19 compared to the pre-pandemic market is not so much “before and after” as it is “before and faster.” People are signing up for services quickly and are leaving services even faster. Consumers are lapping up the free trials offered by almost every streaming service, but the real test is retention with not just great content but also great technology.
What is your vision for FLYX? Where do you see the platform three years from now?
FLYX envisions to become a platform which will completely democratize the media and entertainment industry where great content wins. FLYX will become a platform where a user will not only discover great content to watch but also connect with their friends, family and favorite casts and crews. We aim to bridge the gap between the entertainment industry (the content producers) and the mainstream audiences (the consumers of the product). We are also working on some really new-age products and features which will radically change the industry for good.
What are the future investment and expansion plans of FLYX?
The initial funds have been deployed to scale our operations; we plan to enhance technology, and add more streaming and social networking platforms to provide users a more comprehensive experience. We are working on some really exciting features which we are targeting to release early next year and then we will look to raise the seed round.
India is the hottest streaming market in the world right now and FLYX aims to solve the problem of decision paralysis and content overload. We have global aspirations and in the second half of next year; we want to focus on the US market, which is the largest in the world in terms of dollar value.
Please tell us about FLYX-Filmfare awards and its unique positioning.
It has been a truly remarkable rise of the streaming industry in India over the past few years. With the advent of digitalization, this is only set to grow and play an instrumental role in recognizing cinematic brilliance. The OTT space has been brimming with innovative and gripping narratives, riveting characters and new talented actors breathing life into these tales.
This is why FLYX and Filmfare decided to come together in celebrating and recognizing the best of content creators and artists who have given us constant entertainment even during these trying times.
With Flimfare’s legacy and FLYX’s commitment to bring modern- age technology to digital entertainment this is set to be a unique and first-of-its-kind event. Truly embracing the digital way, the awards voting is taking place on the FLYX app and Filmfare microsite, allowing millions of Bollywood fans across the world to be a part of the decision-making process.
How has been the response from OTT platforms and the industry in general to FLYX-Filmfare awards?
The announcement of the first FLYX Filmfare OTT awards created a lot of excitement and buzz amongst the film fraternity. Big names from Bollywood have been tagging the nominees on their social media handles and praising their work. It has been an atmosphere of camaraderie where the OTT and film industries have come together to celebrate the success of these stars.
We have seen equally exciting participation from the OTT platforms which played a crucial role in sending in all the entries to get them nominated.
We were amazed at how the industry came together in such a short period of time and helped us make this an historic event for the OTT industry.
What are the tech capabilities possessed by FLYX for the voting process?
FLYX enables users to quickly log in onto the app using existing social logins or sign up via their phone numbers. Once they set up their account, they are able to quickly go to voting screens which also have a cool search functionality across various categories to find their favorite stars or content to vote for them in various categories. Once you vote you can also share your personalized links on various social media and chat applications to invite your friends and family to vote, too. On FLYX users can also check out the details about the content such as their ratings, cast & crew information, how many of their friends liked the content, and some news and views from across the internet on the content, thereby helping them to make informed decisions.
FLYX is also running a sweepstakes contest where users can win iPhones and get access to a very exclusive virtual after party hosted by Filmfare for the celebrities.