“We are not denting older systems like TV that is focussing on lower middle class… masses of the yester-years. We are focussing on the newer system,” Kumar told Quartz in September last year.

His model seems robust, with funding from marquee investors like Tiger Global, which valued the firm at Rs270 crore in February. Online content creators typically make money through YouTube ads and even subtle product placements in their videos. TVF has also launched TVFPlay, a web platform and a mobile app that hosts the firm’s content.

And if all this wasn’t enough, India’s traditional production houses, too, are jumping onto the bandwagon.

Yash Raj Films, Bollywood’s largest production house, launched YFilms to host original web series. But it steered away from the age-old Bollywood formulae of romance and action; it spoke of feminism, sex, and dildos instead.

“It (a web series) has always been on the radar for us. We are talking to the millennial audience that consumes a ridiculous amount of content on the smaller screen,” Ashish Patil, who heads YFilms, told Quartz in October last year. “It’s a function of really wanting to stay relevant to this audience, where you make content not only for the large screen but also devices.”

So, the plans are ambitious. But how about the dough?

Making money

Right now, these platforms rely on advertising revenues and/or subscriptions. Some may look at monetisation through exclusive tie-ups with telecom service providers, but that isn’t a popular model.

Experts say that currently these firms aren’t really looking to make money.

“It is very early in the days for the OTT (over the top) entertainment space to talk about monetisation. I doubt anybody is right now focused on making money. Everybody is in the game because they have to. They need to be a part of the ecosystem,” explained Jehil Thakkar, head of media and entertainment at KPMG India.

“India is a cost-sensitive country and with new cheap internet services, a lot of people will use data for the first time. Once it becomes a habit, that’s when monetisation through subscription will really come in,” he said.

Nevertheless, with subscriptions, firms will need to get the math about pricing right.

Netflix, with a minimum subscription of Rs500 a month, is pretty steep compared to Hotstar which charges Rs199 for premium content. Hotstar’s Mohan said they aren’t competing with Netflix when it comes to price as their content is completely different.

“Hotstar as a whole is an advertisement and subscription-supported model,” he said.

Meanwhile, ad spend on digital sources is still low in India but is expected to grow multi-fold over the next four years. Digital ad spends stood at Rs6,010 crore in 2015. By 2020, KPMG India predicts that this will touch Rs25,520 crore.

There are challenges, too. “I think from a monetisation point it will be a big challenge once the initial novelty factor wears thin and advertisers look at actual numbers. Also, the market is very fragmented and it will only get more fragmented. The key here will be to build a subscription model,” said Colors’ Nayak.

Painfully slow internet speed

Although Ambani has ambitious plans of covering 90% of India’s population with Jio by March 2017, currently a huge chunk of Indians don’t have access to super-fast internet. The country has the lowest internet speed in all of Asia and one of the slowest in the world.

But digital firms have been working around it.

“The only constraint is who has access to data,” Mohan said. And so, Hotstar has been working on technologies that can stream videos at a low internet speed, he explained.

Global firms like Google and Facebook are also trying to fix the speed problem.

Google, for instance, has introduced a feature for YouTube videos in India that allows users to download a video and watch it later. Users can use public wifi zones with faster speeds to get their favourite clips. Facebook, too, introduced Facebook Lite, a version of the social networking app that works well with slow speeds.

With all that work going towards bringing Indians online, the revolution in entertainment has just begun.

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