From experimenting with thrillers to launching new channels, a look at Pocket Aces 2020 growth strategy

In an exclusive interaction with BuzzInContent, Anirudh Pandita, Co-Founder, discusses how the three key pillars—OTT partnerships, branded content and e-sports platform Loco—will help chart the content company's growth journey

Akansha Srivastava
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It wouldn’t be wrong to say that 2019 was the best year for Pocket Aces, a seven-year-old content company that owns digital channels such as FilterCopy, Gobble, Dice Media and esports app Loco.

From fetching Rs100 crore in a fresh round of funding to scaling up business and building its team, to launching a new channel Jambo, 2019 has been an eventful year for the content company.

publive-imageAnirudh Pandita, Co-Founder, Pocket Aces, said, “2019 was an excellent year for us. We saw growth in different revenue lines, whether it’s our content business or OTT partnerships. Branded content and talent business grew very fast. We have also started monetising Loco.”

In November last year, the company launched another content platform, ‘Jambo’, in the ‘desi animation genre’, which is already fetching the attention of advertisers. Pandita told BuzzInContent that the company plans to launch at least two more channels in 2020.

Most recently, Pocket Aces also rebranded its food-based content channel Gobble and forayed into the home and travel genres with it.

For this year, the content company has plans to experiment with the content genres and distribution strategies. Pocket Aces’ primary focus areas in 2020 are its OTT side of the business, branded content and its esports platform Loco.

Pandita said, “We are excited about expanding our OTT side of the business significantly and also our branded content offerings. We have seen a massive growth of esports platform Loco. We will be looking to bring that to the mainstream audience in 2020. We are also looking forward to releasing branded content for Jambo. We intend to do a more diversified form of content this year.”

The content company, which is behind some of the most popular long-form shows in India such as ‘Little Things’, ‘What The Folks’, and ‘Adulting’, has plans to further experiment with the content genre and distribution strategies. While it experimented with male-centric web series ‘Brochara’ in 2019, this year, it has partnered with an OTT platform to launch its first thriller drama sometime soon.

In the financial year 2018-2019, Pocket Aces fetched nearly 50% of its business from branded content and in the current fiscal year, Pandita said the business coming from the segment increased exponentially.

Pocket Aces saw several brands such as Mondelez, Hyundai, P&G, HUL and others flocking to various channels of the company in 2019 and the number is only going to increase in 2020, he says.

Pocket Aces aims to hit 50 million users for its esports and interactive entertainment app Loco in another one year. “We have quite a lot of new features in the platform that will come out soon,” Pandita said.

Success comes to those who convert plans into action. Keeping OTT, branded content and Loco as critical focus areas in 2020, the content company is looking for building the right team and structure around it. Pandita said, “That’s where we are spending a lot of our time on. Growth from the demand perspective is tremendous. We need to ensure that we have the right structure to support that.”

Throwing some light on its talent business, which the company initially didn’t take as a source of revenue, but eventually started showing impressive signs of growth, Pandita said, “We represent a bunch of people, who work with us regularly. We represent some of them exclusively. That business has grown much more than we thought. Not only movies and TV shows, we also do branded content deals with them. A lot of advertisers specifically want them to be their ambassadors.”

Not deterred by competition even at a time when every few days a new content creator or a platform is born, Pocket Aces is all prepped up to take on the competitors with its 'planning much ahead' strategy. Pandita said, “Competition comes and go. It’s not a problem. We have the right kind of consumer data. Our consistency speaks for itself. People are seeing now what we saw five years back. It’s a reality. That is why we are investing in places like e-sports, animation and other such places. We are more worried about new ways to entertain our viewers. We are more worried about missing the next trend that has not happened yet.”

There has been quite a buzz around regional content and voice-based content strategy among marketers. As of now, Pocket Aces doesn’t have a strong foothold in the regional and voice-based content space but finds huge potential in its growth in the future. Pandita said, “Regional content is something we are looking at but it is not our No.1 priority. Voice-based content format is a thriving space. As of now, we have nothing in this space but are formulating our strategy there. It is an interesting space, and Indians are spending a lot of time on such platforms. It is a young space, and it is something we are looking at very seriously.”

Pandita believes that sports as a category has the potential to become the apple of marketers’ eyes in 2020. He said, “I think sports is going to be big this year. There are multiple tournaments. The Olympics is coming up. e-sports will be a huge thing this year.”

Not going much into details, he said, “We would see more of TikTok and Instagram-based content initiatives coming up in 2020.” 

Commenting on the state of content marketing, Pandita said, “We moved beyond the stage of explaining to people what is the value of digital as a category. The category creation work is now done. Most large advertisers understand what we do. Now it’s much more about optimisation and investing in the right things, providing value. Another change was the emergence of Tik Tok and Instagram as big platforms. For us, Instagram grew very fast. Viewership on it is very high.” 

Would consolidation in the content space start seeing the daylight in 2020?

Pandita answered, “Yes certainly, it’s a natural thing, especially on the OTT side. It is a place that is very capital-intensive. So, if you are a younger platform, you need to know your competitive edge. I don’t think most of them will have that. Then you will have to do content-sharing agreements, which makes you just a content supplier. A consumer’s phone is not a set-top box where he/she will have 50 apps for the same thing. And by now, it’s pretty clear now who those apps are going to be.”

Pocket Aces 2020 growth strategy Anirudh Pandita