| 02 Feb 2023
It is our responsibility to bring in new trends: Gaurav Wadhwa

MUMBAI: In April this year, Saavn moved from being just another music streaming service to attempting at being a global entertainment streaming hub, with a fresh lineup of original programming. 

The service opened its original content account with shows like -- 'Qisson Ka Kona', 'Time Machine', Trial By Error', Maed In India' and 'Cyrus Says'. The attempt at changing the Indian streaming service ecosystem received mixed reviews from the industry, but the consumers did bite. Hence, Saavn's bid for a second bunch of original programmes. 

The new set of audio shows include -- 'Passport Approved', 'Film Companion', 'Ek Kahaani Aisi Bhi' and ‘#NoFilter Neha'. Saavn also went on to rope in leading spoken-word audio platform Audioboom . The syndicated shows with Audioboom include --  'Like-Minded Friends', 'The Comedy Score', 'Hip Hop Saved My Life with Romesh Ranganathan', 'The Cricket Podblast', 'Official Leicester City Podcast', 'United We Stand', 'The Football Forum', 'Walsh on Film' and 'Undisclosed - State vs Adnan Syed'. Saavn also got Raghu Dixit as its second 'Artiste-in-Residence' after DJ Nucleya.

In a conversation with Kavita Yadav, Saavn's VP, entertainment and originals, Gaurav Wadhwa spoke about his plans for Saavn Originals, Bollywood, understanding the consumers and a need to bring in new trends to the market. 

How did the Phase I of original programming work for Saavn?

The response was really amazing and that is exactly why we have come up with Phase II. We are committed to this for a long term now. We are constantly building new categories to our programming. We keep getting a lot of inputs from our global team. 

Which kind of content works well for Saavn?

Bollywood is what usually works so we are building things around it. This includes music, horror, storytelling. This time, we have something in the film space, 'Film Companion with Anupama Chopra'. The best part about getting someone like Anupama is that it helps one get more users. 

Does it mean a known face adds to the existing consumer base?

One's attempt always is to get a 360-degree marketing push to get the consumers. These consumers could come to you through social media, FB Live or outdoor. The thing about tying up with content creators or the ones who have organic users is that its adds to your list. 

In Anupama Chopra's case, she is a well-known face and has an existing audience base. This is how we will grow. We just hope she gets a few million users to Saavn. 

Audio shows are a new concept in a country like India, though we have radio shows with RJs. Does it mean that the Indian audience will take a while to adapt to it?

Radio hasn't had too many shows and yes, as consumers, we are not too used to audio shows, but people are finding it interesting. This format of programming lets the consumer multitask. You don't have to look at a phone or any screen while listening to these shows. It lets you do other things. People are getting hooked on to audio shows, it's a global trend. Thus, it's our responsibility to bring in a few shows. Therefore, this time, we have taken international formats from Audioboom to see if the Indian audience likes it. 

How many episodes/seasons will each of these shows have?

Most formats are long running whereas some are limited. However, the consumer consumes shows on an OTT platform very differently from that on TV or Radio. They want to choose the time and place to listen to the show. Thus, we create a bank of episodes for the viewers. These mostly start with a minimum of 100 episodes. In cases like 'Trial By Error' which happens to be one story, it is divided into a few parts, in this case, eight. The next time we can come up with yet another burning issue under the same title. We basically work on the longevity of content. Therefore, if we have a Cyrus Broacha interviewing a Neha Dhupia, it wouldn't be about her forthcoming movie. 

How often will Saavn launch new shows?

We are looking at new seasons of the existing shows every two to three months. Plus, we will be bringing in new shows every three to four months. 

What will the new shows be like?

We are attempting to become a holistic entertainment streaming hub. So, we are looking at bringing more comedy, film based shows. We would also like to bring in film gossip and IPL audios. We would basically like to bring in shows based on consumers' needs. 

What kind of research work does Saavn follow to understand the consumers' needs?

There are multiple factors that go into understanding the consumer behaviour, but the foremost are analytics and data. We have over a million subscribers that help us understand the top languages, the artiste they are listening to. Thus, we understand if we need to focus on cool stuff like Badshah's music or something else. Other than that we focus on factors like social media, characters that are popular on social. We also look at the media ecosystem like what is doing well on YouTube, and which joke is going around on Whatsapp. Other than this, it is our responsibility to bring in new trends. We go with our gut feeling.