2015 was an unforgettable year for Hotstar’s former CEO Ajit Mohan. The OTT platform was preparing to live stream the cricket World Cup matches. Mohan said that while they were sure they were ready, the OTT platform stopped working five minutes into the match and he started receiving a flurry of phone calls. “50 per cent of which were abuses,” he revealed.
He reminisced the moment in conversation with Ananth Narayanan, founder of direct-to-consumer fashion company, Mensa Brands at the ASCENT Conclave in Mumbai.
Mohan said that he believed the platform was tuned to take a load of one million users watching the match at the same time. The self-confessed cricket fan even went to Adelaide to watch the match in February 2015. “I and my wife decided to watch the match live because all the hard work had been done,” he said.
However, within five minutes of the match streaming, the platform broke down as it couldn’t take the load.
Though embarrassing, it became an important turning point for Hotstar.
“We learnt a lesson early on,” he shared, adding that he and his team learnt to look at the larger picture. After this incident Mohan decided to look at the entire chain of streaming a live cricket match and started working backwards to integrate one with another seamlessly.
“We started working on enabling 10, 15 or 20 million users to watch the match organically.”
He said that today, about 35 million users watch matches on the OTT platform and this number is slated to touch 200-300 million in a few years.
Mohan said that no matter how attractive a product is, the market will expose its weak points in no time. And this is exactly what happened in Hotstar’s case.
He concluded by saying that entrepreneurs and technologists have been looking at models from the western world which can be replicated in India but the reality is that India has set a benchmark in the spaces of products, technology, and more.
Mohan left Hotstar in 2018 and went on to lead Meta (formerly called Instagram) as its Vice President and Managing Director (for India) for almost four years.
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