Discover Runn TV: India's First Independent FAST Platform
Views on Content, Marketing, Technology, Monetization & Competition
Hey Streamers 👋,
Welcome to the 15th edition of “Streaming in India”, your weekly news digest about streaming players, OTT trends and more in one of the fastest growing video markets. If you are not already a subscriber, please sign up and join several others who receive it directly in their inbox every Wednesday.
Over the past week, India has witnessed a media promotion blitzkrieg for the most anticipated OTT release in a long time with the Zoya Akhtar directed, Indian version of our favorite comic book characters with THE ARCHIES, which released on 7th December on Netflix globally. Irrespective of how good the film actually is, one thing is for certain, Netflix will most likely see a surge in traffic, interest, brand association uplift and hopefully subscriptions as Agastya Nanda, Khushi Kapoor and Suhana Khan (all Bollywood royalty) make their debuts with this movie.
Runn TV, India’s first independent FAST platform launched their services last month.
Exciting times for the FAST space as media & entertainment veteran Manish Sinha, who earlier held key positions at Accenture, Prime Focus Technologies and most recently To The New, took the startup leap of faith to start Runn Media Labs.
Thank You Manish for sharing latest app download numbers -
“We have got 40K+ downloads in a month and will be crossing 50K this week.
Close to 30% of these downloads are organic.”
As per their app store description, here are more details:
“Experience Entertainment, For Free
Runn TV brings the real fun and comfort of watching TV on digital with 24x7 thematic channels running highly curated content across categories including movies, TV shows, short films, specials, news, reality, kids, documentaries and much more. And what's more? It's completely free!
Here's what you will love about Runn TV:
• Carefully curated titles to give you the best of content across categories, genres and languages.
• Unique thematic channels that gives you the entertainment you want, your way, with one-tap-playback experience.
• Super easy navigation and discovery that maximize your watch time and minimize the need for search and browsing.
• Safe watching experience for kids with family.
Runn TV is 100% free. There are highly curated channels and content running for every mood, every genre, every taste and every user. Just get in and start loving it!”
The Runn Experience
There is a quick explanation for all the icons and feature wise walk through for first time users.
We have combined the initial “App Tour” screens here so as to highlight the user onboarding experience.
All the common features centred around “Featured”, “Favourites”, “Audio language”, “Kids safe”, “Discover” (content deep dive and breakdown), “Watchlists” are observed as options which showcases a well thought out product strategy for the business.
Of particular interest is the DVR feature (called “Start Over”), which is cool as users who tune in later for a scheduled event or content piece can scrub back to the parts which they have missed.
Also, the “audio language” toggle feature is a huge plus for India with it’s many languages, however this is possible as Runn TV creates most of their own channels, outside of news which comes from third parties. This gives Runn a lot more control on the meta data, sub-titling and audio language control features.
On the Android app, the sign up process is smooth and video playback experience is fairly quick.
We counted 11 FAST channels for now, divided across Entertainment, Movies, Short Films (interesting!), Web Series, News & Opinions and Kids - 6 content categories at launch.
The FAST channels include NUNU TV (Kids), RunnTV Kids, RunnTV Action, SUPERFINE FILMS, ttt (Terribly Tiny Tales), RunnTV Dramas, Pocket Films, TimesNow Navbharat (Hindi News), RunnTV Short Films, NDTV India (Hindi News) and NDTV 24x7 (English News).
It is encouraging to see that Runn TV has launched with several owned and operated channels - RunnTV Kids, Action, Dramas, and Short Films round up a decent start to their offerings, which will obviously expand as they move towards getting more third party channels. However their launch strategy means that they have much more control on the quality of the content, video watching experience etc.
The “Discover” section of the app gives the user a broader view to slice and dice the content across categories, genres and languages.
Current languages include English, Hindi, Tamil and Bengali.
As you can see from the channel distribution on Samsung TV Plus India as on October 2023 (our last newsletter on India’s largest FAST platform), News and Lifestyle channels are the most popular ones.
Runn TV has just started however they will need to be aware of the popularity of these genres as they look at adding channels to their bouquet.
Also, their content strategy will soon include addition of “pop up” channels - think festival based, actors / film stars focused, specific genre/ theme driven channels and so on to leverage the timing of such genres and occasions.
It's great that Runn TV has launched with a majority of their “owned & operated” channels whereby they have a lot more control on the quality of the content, Electronic Program Guide scheduling and so on.
However as they expand the channel bouquet they will need to partner with third party content owners who have a similar mindset when it comes to quality of content, technology knowhow and mutually beneficial business model.
In addition, what we like is that Runn TV is focusing on the user experience on their app with a variety of features as mentioned above to help towards greater user engagement.
Plus we know post our conversation with Manish, their founder that the
Server Side Ad Insertion and Channel creation technology (stitching together VOD assets and creating unique FAST channels) has been built in-house and the ex To The New tech team / folks are helping them architect their product roadmap which is another plus. They are building IP in their startup from Day 1, which could be interesting even for investors who are looking at such quickly emerging content platforms.
Eventually they want to offer “personalised” FAST channels basis user’s viewing patterns and genre interests, which would be a first for India.
In-house technology for a media tech startup really transforms the economics and experience for the user and the platform, as savings linked to economies of scale, focus on product roadmaps and more are substantial up sides. Especially in India where cost structures for engineers are still cheaper than the West, I think this strategy can work in the startup’s favour. The cons include challenges related to hiring the right engineers, maintaining and future proofing the technology all the time etc.
In addition, Runn TV is currently available on mobile phones only - the sooner they launch CTVs, the better for them, the users and monetization (CPMs are at least 4X-5X mobile).
One of the ways they are pushing app installs is by actually advertising the premiere of an exclusive movie every Friday / Saturday on a couple of their owned and operated FAST channels - “Prime Time Movie” OR equivalent, which is an effective way to market their platform, but also create excitement for “appointment” based viewing.
However it is abundantly clear that Runn TV will have to spend sufficient $$ to make users aware of the platform, the content slate and other USPs to get them to the platform, given the competition in the OTT space overall.
Manish is clear that they want to be the FAST platform of choice for “Indians living anywhere”, India and abroad, which is the right thing to do given the massive advertising $$ upside in the US, Europe etc.
Runn TV has not started monetizing their channels with video advertisements OR sponsors just yet, however that will be a function of eyeballs and users jumping on to the platform.
One of the major monetization variables that not only Runn TV but also the CTV universe needs to solve for includes trying to get OpenRTB (Real Time Bidding) to work for mid roll ads on FAST channels. The jury is out on the effectiveness of this as Server Side Ad Insertion technology inherently has a conflict with the way RTB works. RTB is of great importance in India which is still an Open Auction / Programmatic market relying on Google to fetch advertisements.
There are ways to solve for this technologically, however in the short term RunnTV will have to focus on PG (Programmatic Guaranteed) and PMP (Private Marketplace) deals which involve direct selling of their ad inventory.
There are a couple of marquee FAST platforms that are about to launch in India early next year including LG and a revamped VodafoneIdea + major expansion of the FAST channel slate at Jio TV / Cinema, Xiaomi, Samsung TV Plus, Distro TV, YuppTV, and Zee5 amongst others.
Runn TV has a task on their hands to attract and retain users given the significant competition it faces, however given that they have started with their own streaming technology, a plethora of features with a product first focus, an experienced team and a FAST market that is about to boom, it is a company to watch out for in the Indian FAST universe.
We will continue to expand our analysis of FAST on RUNN TV and others with a major push starting 2024 which should coincide with a FAST take off in India.
That’s all for today folks. If you enjoyed this breakdown, please consider sharing it with your friends and colleagues.
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