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TVF raises fresh capital from Tiger Global as valuation nearly doubles
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

The Viral Fever (TVF), an over-the-top (OTT) platform which creates original video content, has raised an additional $5 million (Rs 34 crore) from existing investor Tiger Global Management.

The transaction pushed the company’s valuation to around $80 million (Rs 557 crore), almost double when compared to the last funding round.

The fresh investment in TVF was first flagged by data research firm Paper.vc.

TVF, operated by Contagious Online Media Network Pvt. Ltd, had raised $6 million in July 2018 at an estimated post-money valuation of around $40 million (Rs 270 crore).

This was significantly lower than the valuation of $61 million that the Mumbai-based company had touched when it raised $10 million from the New York-headquartered Tiger Global in February 2016, according to VCCEdge, the data research arm of Mosaic Digital.

Separate email queries to Tiger Global and TVF didn't elicit any response till the time of publishing this report.

The Viral Fever

Founded in 2010 by Arunabh Kumar and incorporated in August 2015, TVF is backed by a clutch of well-known individual investors that include Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal, Ola founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, Freecharge founder Kunal Shah and Toppr founder Zishaan Hayath.

It started out as a YouTube channel that produced premium content targeted at a young demographic that did not largely consume television content.

TVF produced a variety of content on a range of topics that included Indian politics, movies, lifestyle and emerging social concepts. The brand’s USP was to lace its content with humour and satire. Some of its early offerings, The Permanent Roommates and TVF Pitchers, garnered significant viewership and popularity.

TVF gradually started categorising its content under different channels, each with a different USP and demographic positioning in terms of content. These include TVF Originals, TVF Qtiyapa, The Screen Patti, Girliyapa, The Timeliners, TVF Machi and NBA Hangout.

Among its different YouTube channels, it boasts an estimated collective subscriber base of close to 10 million with The Viral Fever (3.95 million), The Timeliners (2.24 million), The Screen Patti (1.85 million) and Girliyapa (1.64 million), accounting for the lion’s share.

Besides YouTube, its website and Android & iOS apps also serve as digital OTT content distribution platforms.

TVF generates revenue through marketing and advertising streams associated with its content viewership. It is yet to charge audiences for its content.

The company had a tumultuous 2017 after founder and CEO Kumar stepped down as chief executive officer following accusations of sexual harassment by a former employee. He was replaced by TVF’s chief operating officer Dhawal Gusain.

OTT segment

TVF operates in a segment which includes a bunch of players such as All India Bakchod and East India Comedy that also mesh humour with real-world issues.

As a standalone platform, TVF is now facing formidable competition from deep-pocketed players such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. These platforms are producing original content and looking to step up their local play, in addition to offering a large library of movies and TV shows.

Other prominent players in the OTT segment include Voot, a joint venture between Network18 Media & Investments Ltd and US peer Viacom Inc; SonyLIV from Japan’s Sony Corp; Zee Entertainment’s OZee and production house Balaji’s ALTBalaji.

In the recent past, Times Internet Ltd, the digital business arm of media house Times Group, announced its foray into the video streaming business through the acquisition of South Korea-based MX Player for Rs 1,000 crore.

Tiger Global

The investment firm is one of the most active venture capital investors in Indian companies with around 50 firms in its portfolio. It has backed unicorns including e-commerce major Flipkart, classifieds platform Quikr and ride-sharing firms Ola and Uber. It exited Flipkart last year when Walmart Inc. bought the online retailer.

Tiger Global had drastically slowed its pace of investments during 2017 and 2018 as part of efforts to recoup the $2.5 billion the firm had invested over a decade. But it has again stepped up the pace in recent months, investing in nearly half a dozen Indian companies such as agri-tech startup Ninjacart.

Its other notable investments include e-tailer ShopClues, online grocery delivery firm Grofers, logistics startup Delhivery, news app InShorts and online tutoring platform Vedantu.

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