Sample this: People spend 45 minutes per streaming session on miniTV. Despite being online for just 2.5 years, miniTV’s award-winning content is already a hit with young adult audiences, thanks to popular shows that resonate with their lives, such as Half CA, Highway Love, Campus Beats, Slum Golf, Hip Hop India and more. It also helps that miniTV is easy to find and free, needing no subscription. Nestled within Amazon’s shopping app and also available on Fire TV and Android TV, miniTV is a free, ad-supported video streaming service that is watched by millions of Indians for its fresh web series, reality shows, short films, video sketches and international shows. miniTV’s content has seen keen interest by some of India’s leading advertisers such as Mamaearth, Realme, Nissan, Lenovo, WhatsApp and more.
But what makes this streaming service stand out in India’s competitive video on demand space? On a stormy Mumbai afternoon, we caught up with Amogh Dusad, the head of content at miniTV to learn more. Over a cup of coffee, Dusad told us about miniTV’s journey, its initial challenges, and the exciting road ahead.
Digital meets entertainment
First, a bit about Dusad himself. Dusad began his career over 20 years ago at a time when internet audiences did not have multiple on-demand choices. Today, people are not just watching content but engaging with it. Before joining Amazon miniTV in March 2022, Dusad worked for brands such as NDTV Imagine and Sony Pictures Network India in key content leadership roles. At Sony, he was responsible for making Kaun Banega Crorepati a ‘lean forward’ experience by introducing a mobile gaming element. The insights and learnings he garnered from being a pioneer of digital-meets-entertainment content make Dusad the ideal captain to steer the content ship at miniTV.
miniTV: a startup with scale
While miniTV is presently an India-focused offering, parallels can be drawn between miniTV and Amazon’s ‘Freevee’, a free ad-supported streaming TV service operational in countries such as North America, the UK and Germany. Dusad says that the choice of the name miniTV is not coincidental: miniTV is positioned as your free pocket TV. miniTV operates like a startup. “The way we've gone about building our service and expanding it, there’s a lot of the tenor of young organisations that move forward quickly,” Dusad remarks. It helps that miniTV is a part of all Amazon touchpoints. “One great thing about Amazon is the parallel startup energy that we experience when we get into anything new,” he says.
What is miniTV’s business model?
miniTV is an ad-supported service that offers curated high-quality content to viewers. In simple terms, it’s about serving relevant ads to customers when they are watching miniTV shows while delighting them with engaging and fresh stories across multiple genres. miniTV’s nourished content pipelines offer safe, reliable, and targeted inventory for advertisers–something that isn’t possible with video streaming services that largely offer user-generated content. Marquee brands such as Mamaearth, Realme, Nissan, Lenovo, WhatsApp and more have sponsored shows on miniTV, done rich brand integrations within shows and purchased advertising inventory too. “It’s important to note that we’re not just serving consumers, we’re serving advertisers too by helping brands connect with relevant audiences,” Dusad adds.
Devoting time to miniTV’s content
Dusad believes there is an appetite for “all kinds of everything” in India. “The core of what will make or break any entertainment channel is the number of people who are willing to devote their share of time to the content. I think it's important for miniTV to continue expanding to new audiences. A lot of brands want to reach certain cohorts of audiences and want to be part of our narratives,” says Dusad. Along with overall reach, miniTV also looks at user engagement, average watch times and customer repeat rates. Viewers spend approximately 45 mins per session watching content.
Reflecting young adult lives from across the world with Korean, Turkish and Spanish entertainment too
miniTV streams predominantly original content that is in Hindi and Hinglish. It also recently launched popular shows from Korea, China, Spain and Turkey which are now dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. This category also has its own name: Imported. “We didn't create ‘Korean’ as a category; we created ‘Imported’ because we thought the time was right to bring the best of premium content from across the world to our customers in local languages,” says Dusad.
900 hours of exclusive content coming up in 2024
“We don't look at 18-34 years as one demographic. An 18-year-old will have vastly different dreams, aspirations, and wants from a 25-year-old, even if they live in the same household,” Dusad shares. This deep and true insight reflects in miniTV’s programming. While shows such as Gutar Gu attract younger adult audiences, Half CA talks to chartered accountancy aspirants, and Campus Beats caters to adult university students. Also, there are shows such as Rakshak, Slum Golf, Half Love Half Arranged and Hack Crimes that have struck the right chord with young adults. “Good content travels across demographics and geographies, but it helps when your shows are created with a specific audience in mind,” says Dusad. This customer first approach helps miniTV offer specific brands tailor-made integration or sponsorship ideas, and helps them commission projects for specific audiences. miniTV plans to add 900 hours of exclusive content across genres and categories in 2024, catering to different viewing preferences.
Upcoming new shows on miniTV
Dusad was visibly excited about upcoming titles. In the year-end period, miniTV wants to keep building innovative original programming while creating franchises of popular shows. Gutar Gu is returning with Season 2 and so is Crushed with Season 4. For stories that don’t have a direct sequel, Dusad and his team are making anthologies. For example, Highway Love is returning for another season but with a different theme and setting. Dehati Ladke, based on a best-selling Hindi novel by the same name, was recently launched on miniTV.
So, what’s Dusad’s favourite show? “That’s an unfair question, but I guess that’s the boon and bane of working in the content business – you can’t really choose favorites. If I really had to, I would pick the franchise Rakshak; I can’t wait to launch its second season,” he says.
One coffee down. Too many compelling shows to go.