As the lights are going out on events, shoots and movie premiers, the only silver lining amidst all this is the rise of the popularity of OTT (over-the-top) platforms. The halting of productions may have dried up the content line, but streaming hasn’t stopped via the OTT platforms across the globe. The ongoing pandemic has resulted in a sharp rise in time spent on video streaming platforms. To barge the relevance of OTT in the lives of local consumers, RedDot Digital, a subsidiary of Robi Axiata has launched a digital entertainment platform named Binge.
In conversation with Bangladesh Brand Forum, Ahmed Armaan Siddiqui, Director, Red.Digital gave an in-depth idea about the functionality, response from the consumers, and future prospects of the service.
BBF: Tell us a bit about Binge.
Ahmed Armaan Siddiqui: Binge is a rising on-demand online content streaming service. We entered the world of endless entertainment at home with Binge device powered by Android TV and an Android app. The use of the app is also pretty straight forward. Binge started its journey from 21st May 2020. We started with a large screen and on 27th June we launched our android phone app. Our vision is to be the ultimate entertainment solution for all screens.
What is so unique about Binge?
Our original content. We are on the verge of creating international standard Bangladeshi content to cater to Bengali speaking global audience. Binge is a full-fledged digital entertainment platform which is open to all— starting from small screen to big screen, anyone can enjoy it. The platform provides a huge collection of local content, including Binge originals. Due to the wider horizon of Binge, it is well placed to bring about the digital transformation of the entertainment industry in Bangladesh.
What is the response Binge is getting from Bangladesh Market?
Though we are in our soft launch phase, we have received positive feedback from the Bangladesh market for our original content and ease of using our app.
While having other content streaming platforms coexisting in the market, what is Binge doing to stay ahead?
There are different categories of content streaming platforms. Still, we have created a platform for all kinds where there is more than 3000+ content, plus we are also catering to linear channels demand for the Bangladeshi Market.
With the increasing number of smartphone or device users, are screens for Binge or other OTT platforms also increasing? How suitable is the market in for a platform like Binge?
We are in an era where the world is more towards quality than quantity of entertainment. There will always be competition, but our unique proposition is our original international standard contents to cater to our current and prospective subscribers. We can see a growing number of customers willing to pay for accessing the quality premium content.
What benefits Binge offers to the traditional content platforms? And how does Binge maintain the balance between supporting the traditional content platforms and creating its in-house content?
As I have previously mentioned, we have more than 3000 contents off which the majority are Bangladeshi contents. Our vision is to ensure our traditional contents are reached to most of the people. Starting from the nostalgia of old drama series to our brand new inhouse contents all are in line to ensure the right balance of culture, tradition, and content consumption pattern of our subscriber. We have a dedicated content acquisition team working relentlessly to ensure we promote our local artists and content providers.
What role Binge is going to play in developing talents in the content generation industry of Bangladesh?
If you see our star original content “August 14” you will notice that the story is inspired by a current real-life story. We are constantly encouraging talents regardless of their star status. We want to have the right balance of celebrity and new talents to ensure we create more non-traditional creative work career routes which will ensure a generation with a balanced creative mind.
In a culture-sensitive market like Bangladesh, what is the strategy in terms of content generation, and what is your perspective regarding the existing content censorship in Bangladesh?
We are a platform for all, and we will stand by the law of the land. We will always uphold our culture, but we surely would like to get a better direction on web content censorship as it’s a new platform and a proper directive is yet to be formed.
However, our government is losing out on revenue from the business as the foreign OTTs are not subject to any local regulation on revenue sharing or taxation regime in Bangladesh. This disparity is very much counter-productive to expanding the market. We urge the government to address this disparity urgently.
What innovation is Binge exploring at this moment to gain a competitive advantage?
Streaming platforms are still very new in Bangladesh and we aim to go global to cater to Bangladeshi’s across the world. I believe as Binge is part of a prominent IT and Digital service company Red.Digital Limited, we will be able to create innovative ideas with the support of our parent company.
But we don’t want to limit ourselves to the Bangladesh market only. We also look forward to catering to the vast number of diasporas who live overseas but yearn for quality home-grown content to maintain ties with their origin as far as cultural heritage is concerned. Besides, we believe Bangladeshi OTT platforms can compete at the international level, and we want Binge to be that platform. With these big dreams in the backdrop, Binge would like to position itself as the hub of premium quality Bangla content in the world. We are very encouraged by the response received within a short period.
What is the future vision and strategy for Binge? Do you plan to explore new markets in the near future?
There are around 350 million Bengali speaking people in the world and we would like to reach to their all screen types soon with our premium Bangla content. We plan to go global next year with our dubbing studio. Our vision is to create an inclusive environment for the media industry fraternity and especially for the artists.