“We have over 1,000 videos, 1 million subscribers across 10 languages, have over 100 million lifetime views and half a billion minutes watched on the channel…that’s equal to 951 years of watching video 24x7 or as much as travelling to Pluto 100 times! 80% viewership in the 18-34 age group, 90% of our audience is male and in June 2019 we did a watch time of 72 million minutes (13.7 years of watching in just one month!)” Said Shakir Ebrahim, Founder and Creator of Bisbo.
In an interaction with MediAvataar India, Shakir divulged that what it takes to simplify and humourise hard content in order to grab consumer’s attention in this digital age.
Read through to know the workings and concerns pertaining to the “Best Startup in Asia" in 2018!
MediAvataar: What is the story behind Bisbo?
Shakir: ‘News in Comics’ was first launched by me straight out of college in 1990-91 in printed format known as ‘The World in Pictures’. India was a different market then and the concept was probably ahead of its time (plus I was a little raw in business) so even though it ran for 2 years, I couldn’t sustain it. I always thought it to be a brilliant concept so 25 years later I am back, in a new vibrant digital India, hopefully a bit wiser too!
MediAvataar: What propelled you to launch the channel?
Shakir: Print was out of question. In the interim period animation had made huge strides, so I added that to the mix leaving me with a decision to make an app or go on YouTube.
MediAvataar: Why YouTube?
Shakir: YouTube is the best option for discoverability, there are no upfront fees or investments and the system is robust.
MediAvataar: Tell us more about the Digital scenario in India, could it be a protagonist?
Shakir: Still images are passé. Digital allows one to go beyond boundaries. The medium is constantly evolving.
MediAvataar: How has the advent of animation, 2D & 3D has made comic characters and cartoons cooler than ever?
Shakir: Today 2D is common; technology like 5G and sure, 6…7G, will make 3D and holographics as common as will the advent of newer, easier animation software.
MediAvataar: How has animation made it possible to present comics as serious news journalism in India?
Shakir: Animation has enabled the presentation of news to be more viewer friendly. TV shows only footage they have captured, repeating the same loop over and over again. Animation allows recreation, reimagination and will certainly have a larger space in serious news journalism.
MediAvataar: Were you ever worried that this portrayal of hard news could easily turn into something frivolous?
Shakir: Most people who see the video for the first time aren’t really sure if the news is real or it’s some kind of joke. But as they see 2, then 3 videos, they realise that hey, this is pretty interesting. To add to credibility, we write all of our sources in the video description, do comprehensive background research and provide footnotes in screens where required. Whenever we make an error (happens) readers are quick to point it out and we are as quick to acknowledge it or hold our ground in case we believe otherwise. I think we have been pretty successful in establishing our serious intent, as we have several UPSC candidates viewing our videos.
MediAvataar: How Indian comic industry is maturing, from fantasy to journalism?
Shakir: Not really, Fantasy is still big business as can be seen by all the superhero movies hitting screens. But many of the same movies now integrate real or possible events within their storylines; illustrated books is among the fastest growing sectors in publishing, infographic channels on YouTube are immensely popular and with Bisbo, we have added to the pool of evolution.
MediAvataar: Why illustrated novels are one of the fastest growing and most popular categories in publishing?
Shakir: People are reading less and increasingly consume information through video. Animated content, whether serious or for fun, makes information much more digestible, appealing and easy to understand.
MediAvataar: Bisbo was awarded "Best Startup in Asia" in 2018, please share some analytics with us.
Shakir: We have over 1,000 videos, 1 million subscribers across 10 languages, have over 100 million lifetime views and half a billion minutes watched on the channel…that’s equal to 951 years of watching video 24x7 or as much as travelling to Pluto 100 times!
80% viewership in the 18-34 age group, 90% of our audience is male and in June 2019 we did a watch time of 72 million minutes (13.7 years of watching in just one month!)
MediAvataar: What’s there in the pipeline?
Shakir: The big picture answer is 100 million subscribers by 2024 with an upload 125 videos a day in 25 languages.
But by March 31, 2020
(1) 3 videos consistently per week
(2) 1.5 million subscribers
Want to know more about Bisbo?
Bisbo, registered as GoBisbo Broadcasting Network Pvt. Ltd. is India's first and only YouTube channel that creates intriguing animated news videos and has a combined subscription base of 1 million subscribers and 100+ million views across 10 channels in 10 different Indian languages. Shakir Ebrahim, Founder and creator of Bisbo, is Mumbai based serial entrepreneur, seasoned businessman with a demonstrated history of working in the publishing industry. Bisbo is the only channel in India that produces news content in animated format and has recently launched an international news channel targeted at the American market.
Here are the YouTube channels:
www.youtube.com/BSBO (US market)
www.youtube.com/BisboGo (English, Indian market)