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TOPIC

Understanding
the
Monetization
Model of TVF
E-COMMERCE AND DIGITAL MARKETS
PROJECT REPORT
Anubhav Dutta (1501070) Aritra Banerjee (1501072)
Aritra Chaudhuri (1501073) Parth Tawde (1501026)
Rahul Das (1501030) Rubal Bagde (1501097)

Contents
Company Overview: ...................................................................................................................................... 3
Project Objectives ......................................................................................................................................... 5
Research Design ............................................................................................................................................ 5
Direct Procedure: ...................................................................................................................................... 5
Secondary Research .................................................................................................................................. 5
Background ................................................................................................................................................... 6
The venture starts off ................................................................................................................................ 6
The initial steps ......................................................................................................................................... 6
Creating local desi content ..................................................................................................................... 7
Taking the next step forward .................................................................................................................... 7
Evolving from being just a YouTube channel .......................................................................................... 7
Understanding the Business Model .......................................................................................................... 8
Identifying the Platforms .............................................................................................................................. 9
YouTube ................................................................................................................................................... 9
TVFPlay .................................................................................................................................................... 9
TVFInboxOffice ..................................................................................................................................... 10
Current Scenario ..................................................................................................................................... 10
Platform Building Exercise ..................................................................................................................... 11
Evaluating the Platforms ............................................................................................................................. 12
Theory ......................................................................................................................................................... 13
Network Effects ...................................................................................................................................... 13
Long Tail................................................................................................................................................. 13
Disintermediation.................................................................................................................................... 14
Search Costs ............................................................................................................................................ 14
Marketing Campaigns ................................................................................................................................. 14
Digital Marketing .................................................................................................................................... 14
Word of Mouth ....................................................................................................................................... 14
Monetization and Subscription................................................................................................................... 15
YouTube ................................................................................................................................................. 15
Product Placement .................................................................................................................................. 15
Subscription or Fee (Now and Future) .................................................................................................... 16
College Events ........................................................................................................................................ 16
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Digital online entertainment channels- What TVF can learn from them? ................................................. 17
References:.................................................................................................................................................. 19

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Company Overview:
TVF (The Viral Fever was founded by Arunabh Kumar in 2010. TVF was conceived by Arunabh
as a message to the India entertainment industry that the Indian youth knew exactly what to watch.
He identified that there was a section of the society which did not watch a TV serial for a very
long time. This segment consisted mostly of the youth in the age group 14-40 year old progressive
Indians. There was a lot of potential to cater to the needs of this segment in terms of new content
in the form of serials or shows.1
He knew that getting into TV would be a problem for him as big production houses were already
into the business of making TV soaps and giving them a fight for a niche segment would be really
difficult. A lot of censorship also existed in the TV. The shows that were aired on the television
were mostly melodramatic shows targeted at the general population and not any particular
segment. The younger audience wanted content that related to them and had a more amount of
reality. They also did not want the show to be censored to a very high extent. The internet virtually
had no censorship and was the right medium to air such a show. The youngsters also had more
access to the internet and they knew about the most happening shows or events with the help of
social media.
An initial project was proposed by him to MTV. But they refused and he decided to start TVF.
The first show of TVF was Rowdies in 2012, which received a million views in less than 5 days.
After that, they kept making videos with original content and put it up on YouTube for the
audiences. Two shows-Permanent Roommates and TVF Pitchers have especially earned raved
reviews from critics and audiences. Permanent roommates earned accolades for its fresh story
angle and its execution. Pitchers focuses on the life of four friends who plan to enter the start up
world. The following are the creations and the web series which TVF has developed over the years.

Chai Sutta Chronicles(2013-2014)


Permanent Roommates-Season 1(2014)
TVF Pitchers-Season 1(2014-2015)
Tech Conversations with Dad(2014-2016)
Barely Speaking with Arnub(2014-2016)
Permanent Roommates-Season 2(2016)
TVF Tripling(2016)

http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/pPNZeU4jPzUj1jU99aL8NN/How-The-Viral-Fever-wentviral.html

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The show Permanent Roommates is now the second most watched web series in the world2. TVF
has also gone on to become a profitmaking venture from the year 2016. TVF is positioned as a
video content creator and they capitalize on humor3, meshing it with real world issues or
developments. They have a satirical take on the issues relevant to society mixed with humor (both
light and black).
The Global Investment firm Tiger Global invested $10 Million (Rupees 68 crores
approximately) 4in the company in February 2016. Tiger Global is one of the prolific investors in
India. Tiger Global has also picked up a minority stake in Contagious Media Network Private Ltd,
which is the firm that runs The Viral Fever. The investment has been made keeping in mind that
TVF has a lot of potential to become a leading content provider in the near future.
At present, they have 164 videos and 1986192 subscribers in their official YouTube page5. Their
YouTube page currently has The company has also created five divisionsTVF Branded
Entertainment, TVF Production Labs, TVF Live, TVF TV Production and TVF ONE Online
Network for Entertainment, which offer services like branded content for the internet, production
services, live events, television shows and web series. To reach a wider audience, TVF launched
its own app, TVF Play, which lets viewers watch all their content in mobile-friendly resolution.
The company has worked with over 45 brands, including Flipkart, CommonFloor, Shiksha.com,
Procter & Gamble and FreeCharge to create branded content. TVF has also associated with Ola
for the second season of Permanent Roommates. They also have direct advertising deal with
CommonFloor and Snapdeal.

http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/permanent-roommates-going-the-webway/article7329851.ece
3

http://www.newindianexpress.com/education/edex/2014/apr/21/Lessons-in-Laughter602581.html
4

http://techcircle.vccircle.com/2016/02/17/tiger-global-invests-10m-in-online-video-contentcreator-the-viral-fever/
5

http://www.iamwire.com/2015/02/aibknockout-viral-youtube-channels-knock-tv/109057

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Project Objectives
To analyse and understand the different sources of revenues for TVF, the model for monetisation
of its content and suggest additional mechanisms of revenue for TVF

Study about monetization of content through Youtube Channels


Study about similar business models (Global brands) What are some of the additional
forms of monetization which others have employed?
Understand the benefits to TVF through a gradual move from a Youtube channel to its own
website.

Research Design
Direct Procedure:
We had conducted two in-depth interviews with distinguished members from the TVF
Team
1. Mr. Raghav Subbu- Associate Creative Director of TVF Qtiyapa
2. Mr Vineet Kanabar- Associate Director Marketing, TVF
The one-on-one interviews helped us to have a firm understanding of the business model
of TVF, the costs and cost types associated in creating a particular web series and the
corresponding revenues generated from the series, their views on the transition from
Youtube to the TVF website, the benefits derived by the sponsors.
We would like to thank them for the support that they have extended to us towards the
research and the project.

Secondary Research
In addition to the in-depth interviews with the TVF Team, we went through various
different blogs and websites to supplement our findings from the primary research. The
citations have been made in the footnotes as well at the References Tab. We have applied
some of the concepts from the readings in the course-pack of the E-Commerce and Digital
Markets course:1. The Long Tail How endless choice is creating unlimited demand : Chris Anderson,
Market Leader, Autumn 2006
2. A Strategic analysis of electronic marketplaces : J. Yannis Bakos, MIS Quarterly,
September 1991
3. Three Elements of a Successful Platform Strategy

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Background
The venture starts off
TVF started off with content targeting the youth specifically the massive student population in
Indias various engineering colleges. If we look at the first video that was posted on YouTube way
back in 2010 by TVF called Inglorious Seniors: Ragging Qtiyapa (a parody take on the
Hollywood film Inglorious Bastards in the context of the ragging faced by the freshmen in Indian
engineering colleges) it harked to the innumerable Indian engineers present and past. With internet
access in most college campuses across India not an issue (in a country with very low internet
penetration), the video went viral in the college circuit and began to pop up in the Facebook feeds
of different users. It is to noted here that at that of time the founder Arunabh Kumar was not in a
position financially to promote their videos. So, the word of mouth publicity and online viral effect
resulted in it becoming a rage in IITs and NITs. Also, an important factor was that almost all of
the initial team were pass-outs from IIT Kharagpur, which further helped the students identify with
their work and also did further publicity since it being a venture started by the seniors & alumni
of the college. The second video Rowdies, garnered over 10 lakh views within 10 days and that
gave the much-needed fillip to the fledging start-up.6
The initial steps
Initially the model followed by TVF was to post their videos on YouTube and target the college
student population in the age group of 16-24 years. This group had a very different way of
accessing content with most of them having a PC or Laptop and a good internet connection. This
worked in favour of TVF in reaching out to the target audience. Also, as stated by the founder they
wanted to create original Indian content with which the new generation could identify and not the
melodramatic soap operas which ran on the mainstream TV channels. As this new generation
gained easy access to the internet and got exposed to content from across the world the demand
for local original content with good production value increased. Taking the example of Arunabh
who (like the majority of others) when logged onto IMDb (Internet Movie Database, a popular site
for reviews and other content related to films) to check out the top 250 must watch shows, he only
found foreign content and it is that earning for a similar quality local content that he tried to fill
with TVF. So, mentioned earlier he pitched his ideas to all major TV channels like MTV after his
stint with Red Chillies (and being assistant director in Om Shaanti Om) but was rejected by all of
them since the feeling in the mainstream media was that the audience was not mature enough to
accept such content.7 This along with the monetary crunch forced TVF to look towards online
platforms like YouTube. Also, he started collaborating with like-minded creative people for future
videos and initially focused on small scale production (due to resource constraints) but with
6
7

http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/a-curious-case-of-qtiyapa/article4833730.ece
https://yourstory.com/2013/10/arunabh-kumar-qtiyapa/

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original content. A resounding testament to the vision of the founders can be found in the present
IMDb top 250 TV shows which has only 2 Indian entries (Pitchers No 22, entered in 2015 and
Permanent Roommates No 174, entered in 2014) both from The Viral Fever Media Labs; an
objective they had set out to achieve.
Creating local desi content
The focus of TVF have been to produce content which would resonate with todays India. They
started off with the Qtiyapa video series (which is a parody of a slang used in Hindi to describe
a messy situation) which parodied the popular topics among the youth population like ragging in
colleges, popular TV shows like MTV Roadies and The Newshour along with satires on the current
political situations. Soon celebrities started appearing in their videos like Ayushmaan Khurana,
Anurag Kashyap, Shahrukh Khan etc. lending further credibility to the channel and increased its
popularity manifolds. Also, the channel focused on the day to day situations faced by the common
man like calls from salespersons (telecom provides like Airtel) or making prank calls to the railway
reservation helpline. Their innovative takes on Bollywood movies and songs (like Gangs of social
media, Gana wala song) generated over 30 lakh views generating huge interest from the public
growing out from their initial audience base of primarily college students.
Taking the next step forward
All of this attracted the major corporates and production houses who started viewing this as a new
channel of promotion for their products. Soon major producers were tying up to promote their
upcoming films through TVF in the form of innovative videos which featured the stars from the
movie along with the regular actors of the channel. So even though it was not a blatant
advertisement in the purest of sense but a sort of native marketing wherein the message was
embedded into the script of the video. For example, Kingfisher approached TVF in 2014, to create
a web series which would revolve around beer. Thus, was born Pitchers a 5-episode series about
the burgeoning start up ecosystem in the country; where a group of 4 engineers drop out of their
jobs and decide about their new venture sitting in a pub over pitchers of beers (which would
inevitably be of Kingfisher beer). United Breweries saw this as a better channel to reach out to the
youth rather than other main steam channels. Also, a marked departure from the early years was
that TVF started making full-fledged web series (having more than 1 season each containing 7-8
episodes) with high production value; for example, the recent web series called Tripling had a
budget of 2 crores. Each of these web series have a tie up with corporate like OLA,
CommonFloor.com, TATA Motors etc. who are the main sponsors bringing in new sources of
revenue.8
Evolving from being just a YouTube channel
As mentioned earlier the scale of TVF increased manifold in recent years with TVF opening up its
own website tvfplay.com and releasing content exclusively on the website. This helped increase
revenue from advertisers and removing their dependence on YouTube. The company has
8

http://www.forbesindia.com/article/big-bet/digital-content-creator-tvf-has-big-plans-for-the-future/42901/1

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reorganised the company structure into five divisions TVF Branded Entertainment, TVF
Production Labs, TVF Live, TVF TV Production and TVF ONE Online Network.9 They have also
launched their own android app TVF Play to let viewers watch all their content in mobile friendly
resolution. Also, they have opened a site tvfinboxoffice.com which is an online repository on
movies and short films (both Indian and International) wherein the user can watch the content in a
subscription based model (like the earlier version of Netflix). Finally TVF also raised their first
round of funding with Tiger Global Management pumping in $10 million (it had been bootstrapped
by the founder Arunabh till now); thus increasing its valuation to Rs 270 crores with a revenue
stream of Rs 4 crores in FY2015.

Understanding the Business Model


The major value proposition for TVF is their original content creation both in terms of content for
companies or free content for the web series audiences. Brand integration is one of the major
sources of revenue for TVF. The business model comprises of the various modes of revenues that
TVF earns for its original content and web series on the internet and creating stand-alone piece of
content with brand integration. YouTube ads is one way in which they are earning their money
from. Native advertising is being integrated in their business model but with the help of social
media.
Some of their shows are sponsored by companies like Ola and CommonFloor. Since the virality
quotient of these videos is high, the brands are able to leverage that for their promotion.
Association with a strong brand allows TVF to increase their prices by a great extent. Brands pay
a lot to TVF to get quality content which would help to promote them through non-conventional
channels.
The production costs involved in creating content is usually above Rupees 25000/- per video. But
for higher end videos, the costs involved are usually above Rupees 10000/-. These videos are
usually made for brands or for Bollywood related themes and usually help them to earn more
revenues. As of now the content in the internet provided by TVF is free of cost. They might soon
move to premium content in which the subscribers will have to pay a premium to gain access to
their content. They are also in plan of adding feature films in their business models. There is more
revenue earning potential through movies as compared to the content creation model and hence
they are looking at making a movie.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Viral_Fever

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Identifying the Platforms


TVF (TheViralFever) started out as a YouTube channel catering to creation of viral video content
targeted primarily at the younger, tech-savvy, urban upper and middle-class demographic located
across Metro and Tier-1 cities who were better connected to the internet.
YouTube
YouTube as a platform allowed the channel to grow exponentially in a relatively nascent Indian
digital content market where only the tech-savvy and younger demographic in urban areas,
primarily metros and Tier-1 cities, was primarily utilizing the platform for fulfillment of their
entertainment needs.
When it launched on YouTube it was one of the few channels geared towards the Indian
demographic. Hence, as YouTube continued to promote more localized content, the popularity and
likelihood of videos by TheViralFever tended to move towards the Trending category leading to
further improvement of its reach and views
The thickness of Indian internet viewers is highly visible in their videos averaging more than 1
million views for their shorts and more than 2 million views for their mini-series. In comparison,
the amount of original content created exclusively for online channels have been growing slowly
compared to their western counterparts. TVF also started targeting a wider audience of 18-34 year
olds in the same geographic area as earlier with lower focus on Tier-2 cities.
The network effects allowed the localized content in India to reach larger number of Indian users
looking for such content and in turn, the availability and creation of more such content led to an
increase in users for the platform (YouTube India). This allowed a simultaneous growth for both
the nascent user base and content creators (in this case, TVF and its cohorts). Being really early to
this new age media channel, TVF has amassed a large following with more than 2.5 million
subscribers.
TVFPlay
The TVFPlay Platform was created after the established TheViralFever as a relatively well-known
brand. The Platform was available both on desktop and mobile (through both mobile browser and
their native app).

The platform was a development that resulted out of need to gain higher revenues through
brand integration within their content. YouTube takes a large cut of the revenues from
channels that promote brands within videos. Hence, this was done to leverage and promote
brands on their own channel to offset losses in revenue. This greatly enhances their earning
potential.
Increasing its own platform power allows it to build up its brand and pave the way for
future opportunities where it could create a larger stand-alone platform. This has already
been exhibited with tie-ups along with Dice Media and Screen Patti to release their content
on the TVFPlay platform.

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It allows them to gain independence from YouTubes policies that might not allow
monetization of TVFs videos in case of any updates in their terms of service and create
content freely without censorship.

We can also ascertain that by building two distinct platforms for such content, TVF has been
actively trying to showcase its content in a differentiated manner. It is also trying to build a captive
audience on its own platform, thereby reducing the search costs for the loyal TVF viewer who can
directly consume their content on their own platform be it web or mobile, with relative ease. It
is also trying to add value by providing Extras bundled with each mini-series that is only accessible
exclusively on its own platform. This provides higher value to the consumer accessing the content
on the TVFPlay platform.
TVFInboxOffice
The TVFInboxOffice Platform is an expansion of the existing TVFPlay platform to host movies
for rent at a reasonable cost compared to competitors alongside hosting short films and providing
an array of niche content for their target audience.
The platform aims to showcase those movies that have had a limited theatrical release in the
country or excellent movies that are relatively unheard. It is trying to carve a niche by focusing on
those elements that make up the long tail. The platform is trying to get these niche relatively
unheard movies to an audience that hasnt experienced it. This is possible by creating a completely
delineated area to focus only on this category of films. In addition, they are also collecting niche
short films that are not well-known starring some of the finest Indian actors that go unnoticed even
when available freely on YouTube.
It is trying to be a specialist in a niche area, which has yet to be tapped into in the Indian Market.
It is doing so in a relatively competitive manner by following a rental model similar to Google
Play Movies model than a subscription model followed by Netflix. In addition, in the rental model,
it is providing these gems for a rental period of 15 days compared to the incumbent Google Play
Movies which provides only 2 days to watch the movie.
Current Scenario
We can currently see that TVF is straddling a fine line between publishing content exclusively on
its own platform as compared to that of YouTube. This has been done in the following ways:

Releasing trailers on YouTube quickly and providing early access to the series and
following episodes on TVFPlay App and Website.
Apart from delay, exclusive content is being published only on the TVFPlay platform
Thirdly, only the shorts and Qtiyapa videos are being published on YouTube to drive
engagement with their subscribers on YouTube.
Brand Promotion Videos at the beginning of the video of up to 30 seconds long are added
to the beginning of the series on TVFPlay platform.

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Platform Building Exercise


It is quite clear that TVF is attempting to improve its revenue draw alongside building its own
platform and brand equity among its user base. In its attempts to do so, it is utilizing its Facebook
and Twitter to get followers to watch episodes through direct notifications on their walls and feeds.
The organic marketing on these social media platforms has a higher proliferation and Word of
Mouth buzz that improve its pervasiveness as compared to paid advertising.10

(Current Channels use by TVF for distribution of content)


Possibility of Disintermediation
It is possible in the future, upon building a larger captive user base, TVF may completely choose
to disintermediate from Googles YouTube once it has amassed enough industry connections for
brand promotions, especially with regards to all of its mini-series and high value content.
Brand Alignment
TVFs strategy is to tie-up with specific brands that can be well-aligned with the storyline of their
content adding larger value as a part of the content, rather than going the traditional route to place
specific advertisements. Their method of Brand Integration adds high value to the brand they are
10

http://www.adageindia.in/digital/indian-brands-are-wasting-their-dollars-on-tvcs-arunabhkumar-the-viral-fever-tvf/articleshow/48862687.cms

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tying up with, as was seen in case of Tata Tiago. The series was run across Tata Dealerships in the
country, showcasing the synergies and alignment created through Brand Integration with the
content created.

Evaluating the Platforms


The investments on the platform were evaluated on a yearly maintenance basis and evaluated
against the possible benefits that can be derived from exclusively publishing the content on the
TVFPlay website and app.
Considering the high volume of bandwidth required for hosting the videos online, we selected the
Ultimate Professional plan that costs $599 annually (Rs 40,660), as one of the yearly costs of
running the website. In addition, an annual in-house cost of maintaining the website was estimated
at Rs. 2,40,000 alongwith the annual domain cost of Rs. 8160. The excel file has been attached for
reference.
Selection based on high Bandwidth of Cost
(in Monthly
Cost
usage
INR)
(INR)
40660.12
3388.343333
Annual Hosting Cost (Vimeo)
240000
20000
Annual Maintenance Cost (in-house)
8160
680
Annual Domain Cost (GoDaddy)
288,820.12

24,068.34

The annual costs are approximately Rs. 2.9 Lakh, which is a relatively low cost for the company.
We proceed to calculate the annual Opportunity Cost of not acquiring an approximate 1 million
views on YouTube on 50 published videos.11
Opportunity Cost
Annually hosted videos
Google Margins
Click Through Rate
Average CPV

11

Revenue in INR
50
45%
0.1%
$
1.50

http://videopower.org/how-many-views-to-make-money-on-youtube/

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CPV with Google

$
45,168.75

3,066,054.75

By publishing videos directly on the TVFPlay, platform we have the potential to earn Rs. 1 Lakh/
min of Brand Integration in a published video. Taking a conservative estimate on the amount at
Rs. 5 Lakh for 5 mins, and taking an average of 3 mins of brand promotion per video, we find a
surplus in profit of Rs. 1.15 crore after deducting costs of platform maintenance and opportunity
costs.

Revenue in INR
Brand Promotion (5 mins)

500,000

100,000
Rate (Rs/min)
Average Mins of Brand Promotion per
3
video
15,000,000
Revenue
Surplus Profit
11,645,125.13
As can be seen there is a large benefit for the company by trying to get a larger portion of its
subscribers moved on to the TVFPlay platform. Hence, it makes a lot of economic since for TVF
as content creators to move to their own platform, given they can ensure consistent patronage from
their target consumers to their platform.

Theory
Network Effects
This refers to the feedback effect in a network, wherein the presence of a larger number of
customers, leads to an increase in the number of participating suppliers and vendors. This in turn,
cyclically, leads to an increase in the number of customers. This feedback effect is continuous and
leads to an ever-increasing size of the platform. This especially has a large consideration across
the localized networks that exist.
Long Tail
During the course of this paper, we have mentioned the concept of the long-tail. The long-tail was
a concept coined by Chris Anderson to explain the large size of the market that existed due to the
demand for niche goods which could possibly be bigger than the size of the market for mainstream
goods in case of digital markets. This concept applies exclusively to digital markets due to the
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minimal costs associated with packaging, storage and delivery. As the digital markets have infinite
space, zero logistics and packaging costs, it can lead to a large number of niche goods becoming
available to customers who demand them, catering to the needs of every type of customer.
In case of TVF, it has created highly niche platforms to cater to the customers specific needs. A
reference to the concept of long tail has been utilized to describe the possibility of the company,
to create a platform catering to customers, by providing only those niche elements present within
the long tail.
Disintermediation
The risks of disintermediation are a great threat for every digital platform. The threat of
disintermediation arises when the user or supplier circumvents the platform to complete the
transaction. In some cases, the e-commerce platforms are created specifically to enable
disintermediation from multiple existing vendors, such as in case of the housing market.
In this case, we speak specifically about the on-going attempts of TVF to focus more on developing
and publishing content on its own platform.
Search Costs
The e-commerce industry and digital markets thrive due to the reduction of search costs enabled
by many of its features. This reduction of search costs have led to easy access to information and
products that have enabled the growth of digital transactions. This has been managed by providing
consumers access to alternatives and larger, more connected markets leading to reduction in costs
and increase in availability of products.
In case of TVF, the concepts of search costs in reference to their new platforms have been
mentioned.

Marketing Campaigns
Digital Marketing
As we have studied in class using of Google and Facebook ad system without the appropriate
knowledge will only lead to loss of ad expenditure without the punch. In the earlier stages when
TVF did not generate the necessary amount of views for their content, they did use Facebook and
Google to promote their content and page. However now The Viral Fever (TVF) have seems to
have categorically decided not to advertise through Google AdWords or Facebook Ads. This is a
very good decision since now they have dedicated followers it makes sense that marketing
expenditure should not be wasted on promoting content but rather on getting the right content out
there.
Word of Mouth
They have relied heavily on the type of content that they make. The content then is driven by word
of mouth. Their Facebook and Twitter page does share the web series however it also has a lot of
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other content including snippets of short jokes, other videos that they make, etc. They have till
date uploaded 164 videos including the web series, short video clips and other similar content.
However YouTube has played a heavy part in their fame. YouTube has a strong suggestion
mechanism which can direct users to their channel. This mechanism depends on the type of content
that uploaded and the algorithm YouTube employs. However if they shift to their own website,
this can be a problem. The organic views through YouTube suggestion might go. However if a
user comes on the website there is almost 0 chance that new content by other posters could be
discovered by a consumer.

Monetization and Subscription


TVF wants to be kind of Netflix of India. It wants to generate great content that young audience
enjoys. The monetization would be based on the views it garnered in the earlier use of YouTube.
YouTube
YouTubes monetization was a blessing for small time YouTubers. It sprouted a generation of
YouTubers like Ray William Johnson and his channel equals three, Pewdiepie and even in India
AIB, TVF, East India Comedy grabbed lot of eye balls and also lot of initial capital. Currently
socialblade estimates that TVF would be making $4.3K - $68.3K monthly depending on the type
of ads that are viewed and targeted by TVF. This money helps many budding creative people to
launch their product and monetize on small scale. However as the shows become bigger with brand
endorsements, the YouTube monetization doesnt give a lot of inflow of cash. However YouTube
wants shows to declare their product placements and promotions. It makes sure that brands which
are competitors to the brands associated with the Video will not be in the ad displayed by YouTube.
Also YouTube does not allow burning of the advertise into the videos. That means a readymade
ad cannot be set at the start or end or even middle of the video. Finally it might even not allow
product placement without a monetary arrangement however details of the same could not be
obtained.

Product Placement
Generally TVF earns most from this avenue. More and more brands have started tying up with
TVF for brand placements. However TVF works very closely with brands to build a story. You
find that products are built into the flow of the video. It takes a lot of time but it is certainly worth
the effort. Within the first 4 minutes of its famous series TVF Pitchers you see placement of
different brands like Kingfisher, OnePlus, OLX, etc. These are so seamlessly built into screenplay
that the attention should be on the product. Due to its strong story building TVF surpasses just
brand recall. We believe it actually taps into mind set of audience by keeping association like
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almost cult nature tagline tu beer hai (who did not think of kingfishers then). Or even in their
other hit series Permanent Roommates the second season was backed by Ola and it led to the
introduction of the character Purushottam and Shabnam. Even the tags like Ola se jao didnt seem
forced. No wonder Ola paid them about 2.5-3 Crore for the second season. It gives brand a great
way to get entrench into the heads with taglines like OLX pe bech do being used. This goes above
and beyond brand association and looks much better than simple brand placement which can
become misplaced.
One more aspect was a sort of affiliate partnership as well that they did with Tata. To cross promote
its series Tripling, the TATA dealerships, over 20000 of them, played the trailer of Tripling. That
was an advertisement that they got without an actual expenditure. Such partnerships will help TVF
flourish a lot in the future especially since the brand is in itself a story in these web series.

Subscription or Fee (Now and Future)


TVF is looking towards a subscription model however that looks difficult to implement in the short
run. With several competitors like AIB, The East Comedy, etc having come in can actually be a
detriment to this plan. What it would need to do is launch many of such web series. If it does so
there can be a chance that such a model will be favourable in the long run. However they can lose
their loyal customer base if they try to do so. In theory a customer wont really like to pay to watch
a product intensive series. Its possible they just tolerate it since they understand the restrictions
regarding making of a TV series.
What TVF have done is launch TVFinbox which has many movies which can be rented for a period
of 15 days by paying 99 rupees. This is a model they can try out however the success of the model
will again depend on the content. It begs the question whether they are trying out this model to see
if people would pay money to watch their web series or are they diversifying their product
portfolio. It is possible that they do want to become Netflix of India with good content. However
with a 90% piracy in Asian countries, it is always an issue whether people will pay for web series.
Only time will tell.

College Events
This is something that also helps in delivering double benefits. College fests usually have huge
crowd right in their target segment. By going and mingling with the college going kids while doing
their bit in front of them actually raised awareness of their shows. This helps in marketing of the
shows. Also they demand a fee due to their fame and performance which helps a lot as they dont
have to pay for such marketing effort. The only cost is the time consumed in such activities. Overall
it becomes an exciting proposition for them.
Overall the move away from YouTube can be due to the policies that YouTube has in play for in
show ads. Neither can it burn ads which is what some clients prefer to pay for nor can the content

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contain expletives which is a line that TVF flirts around with. This we believe is one reason TVF
is moving away from YouTube.

Digital online entertainment channels- What TVF can learn from them?
Though our secondary research listed no direct pure-play companies, which have the same
business model as TVF, we believe that there are a few digital online entertainment channels such
as Netflix, Cyanide and Happiness, RocketJump, which have some different forms and techniques
of monetisation their original content that TVF can foray into in the long run.
Netflix- Netflix started off as a DVD rental 12company in 1998. The company slowly moved away
from its core business model of DVD rentals in early 2007 and introduced video-on-demand which
allowed members to watch television shows and movies via the internet. In 2011, the company
started to acquire original content that would be distributed exclusively (Netflix Original) to their
members. Netflix has a different model for funding13 a new series than other TV networks- they
provide the money upfront and immediately order two seasons of most series.
The business model of Netflix and TVF has converged to some extent with both creating a platform
for its subscribers or members to view original content created by their production houses. Netflix
has a subscription based model, wherein subscribers are charged on a monthly/yearly basis to view
the content. Also, Netflix licenses some of its content to other media channels for example House
of Cards being aired on Colors Infinity. If TVF were to follow in Netflixs footsteps, they could in
future charge some subscription from its viewers or follow pay-per-view model, thereby charging
its audience to view a particular web series or a web episode. In future with increased number of
original web series, an option to license its content to other media channels or TV channels is also
a potential revenue source.
Cyanide and Happiness- Cyanide and Happiness is a web-comic, which started off as a small series
of comics drawn by Kris Wilson in 2005, and published in social networking sites such as
MySpace, Quora and Facebook, amassing over a million visits per week. Soon, after its popularity,
the creators moved the entire comic strip to its website- explosm.net. Building upon its popularity,
the cartoonists started creating Cyanide and Happiness animations and also eleven full-length
episodes of The Cyanide and Happiness Show. The website started featuring many other webcomic series and animation TV series on similar lines.
In 2013, Explosm launched a mobile app for Cyanide and Happiness, wherein the free Lite version
would allow the user to access the last 30 days of the archive.14 The Cyanide and Happiness
creators also offered a selection of merchandise, including T-shirts, toys, novelties and school
supplies. Similar to Cyanide and Happiness, TVF has amassed a significant popularity among the
12

edition.cnn.com/2014/07/21/showbiz/gallery/netflix-history/

13

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netflix

14

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyanide_%26_Happiness

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urban youth in a relatively short period of time, and therefore merchandising T-shirts- as a
revenue source is a viable revenue source for TVF..
RocketJump- RocketJump is a production company and channel started by Freddie Wong, an
American film-maker, and VFX artist and competitive gamer. The production company created
the hugely popular web series Video Game High School, which since release in 2012, has
developed a cult following with over 100 million views across various online platforms.
All India Bakchod- AIB is a popular comedy group in India which makes comedy shows and
parodies on topics such as politics, society and Indian film industry. They have a prominent online
presence with shows being aired on Youtube and over podcasts. Though the monetisation of
content on Youtube by AIB is similar to TVF, The content created on ther channels are fairly
different (The content of AIB is not in the form of web-series, thereby making it different from
TVF and Netflix in terms of content). TVF also has a much richer content and viewership by varied
age-groups than AIB. The forum where AIB has established its prominence more is by organising
different comedy stage shows- sometimes involving the character portrayed in their online content.
Scoopwhoop and Pocket Aces has started experimenting with web series in 2015. MTV India is
considered as a competition by the founder who wants to reach the scale of their operations and
reach. TVF is still a content heavy and not a distribution heavy company. Since TVF is a free-toview platform, competition is heavy as the Indian audience is still taking time to pay a lot for good
content.
TVF clearly has developed a cult following which is growing with the rich content that they
produce in a monthly basis. It is only through their content that the company would be able to
organically acquire audiences- some of them could be soap-opera watching audiences, which
would then further drive the revenues of the company.

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References:
http://techcircle.vccircle.com/2016/02/17/tiger-global-invests-10m-in-online-video-contentcreator-the-viral-fever/
https://yourstory.com/2013/10/arunabh-kumar-qtiyapa/
http://www.forbesindia.com/article/big-bet/digital-content-creator-tvf-has-big-plans-for-thefuture/42901/1
http://www.livemint.com/Consumer/p9lQ5CFxeZRIfJBKNd4LtK/Behind-the-scenes-at-TheViral-Fever-Videos.html
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