The world of infotainment is now moving at break neck speed and the twenty first century content creators are playing a major role in the digital evolution. Pakistan has been a little slow in catching up; original digital content hasn’t caught on like wild fire yet but we’re getting there. In the absence of there (yet) being original Pakistani content on streaming sites like Netflix, Pakistani content creators are starting off by developing their own digital spaces.
Realizing the need of the hour, Muhammad Rahimtoola, Qaiser Ali and Kazim Bhojani – who have remained an integral part of the entertainment scene in Pakistan for almost a decade – have launched Pakistan’s first original content platform, called Binjee. Partners at QLinks Group, the trio founded Nashpati Digital, a one-stop entertainment shop on YouTube, which has a very high engagement rate. Having learnt the complexities of the digital world with Nashpati, the team is now working on expanding Binjee and taking it to the next level.
Instep got in touch with the trio to get some insight into their newly launched platform, which has already released some series and talk shows.
“This recession and the turn towards digital is a new phase; things won’t happen overnight but people and the industry should look forward to it in a very engaging way,” they told Instep. “Gradually, more people will become a part of it too while it also gives a chance to newer people to showcase a lot of stuff. We think people should adapt this medium with a little open mind and take it as it goes along because if this works, it will make it easier for them to bag international projects.”
Having launched earlier this year, Binjee has been generating a great response so far, just on the basis of digital marketing. The site has picked up a decent number of subscribers already.
“We were a little worried about the outcome but I think Pakistani content is there to be taken. There has been great engagement and the audience is very receptive to it,” they informed.
Directors who have come on board with their projects that are and will be available on Binjee include Kashif Nisar, who has directed a web series called Saat Mulaqatein. Featuring Noman Ejaz and Zara Tareen as husband and wife, the story follows their lives after they decide on leading their own ways.
Other names include the likes of Nadeem Baig, Azfar Ali, Nain Maniar and Saqib Sameer.
Director Mehreen Jabbar is also working on a project for Binjee, which has not released yet. However, reflecting on how digital platforms like Nashpati are taking the initiative, she maintained, “I think this is a great opportunity for out of the box projects to come out of Pakistan. The world is moving towards digital platforms and it’s great to have such a platform in Pakistan too.”
Speaking of Bingee, she added, “From what I’ve seen of the presentation, I think it has a healthy mix of products that can appeal to a variety of audiences with something for everybody.” Tabish Hashmi, who is hosting a show called To Be Honest, which is up on Binjee, shared that he was given space to be himself and do what he is good at; execution was seamless as one would expect from such an experienced team, direction was the highlight as Azfar [Ali] bhai would not settle for anything less than brilliant.”
“Their content is quite diverse; this platform has something for every class, gender and age,” he added while Azfar, reflecting on Nashpati, maintained that it has been able to execute their ideas expertly and are at par with other leading digital competitors.Some content is available for access on the site but there is a lot more that is ready but the team hasn’t put it up on Binjee yet. They believe, rather than putting it all out, they will test the ground as well as stability of the platform first before proceeding further.
Given that with online platforms revenue generation is a key concern, we asked about their monetization plan.“Up until now, in Pakistan, there has been no fixed formula for monetization of original digital content,” shared Rahimtoola, Qaiser and Kazim. “But the rough formulas that are working everywhere, and that will obviously follow in Pakistan, are advertising, subscription and transaction. Transaction is something that Pakistan has not experienced until now but India has done it. The product is premium and you pay for the video of a particular series only. This is a new formula that is being applied. Another one is distribution; the more you distribute your content, the more you earn.”
“Subscription is one of the major features of Binjee that is why we are working with the telecom and corporate sector because without them you can’t do subscription,” they furthered. “There are a lot of questions raised at subscriptions; these were the questions raised at Netflix as well as streaming sites in India but everybody has done it. And our price model is very low at the moment. It is only PKR 60 per month and it is very easily deductable in a couple of ways. People are paying for ringtones, songs and live cricket so this is a value added service of video. We don’t think it is about whether people will spend the money or not, it is about what you give to them in return. If they will be offered good content, they will make it a habit. Aside from web series and various shows, Binjee also aims to promote local, original music by providing a platform to fresh artists. From next month, they plan to release three music videos per month while, in the future, there will be content for kids too.