Startup Sunday Season 3 Episode 34 || The Viral Fever

The story of most of the successful startups starts from realizing the gap in the market and moving towards filling that one. Indian television entertainment has a huge pile of content but somewhere lacks the specific content to cater to the young viewers. There came the most famous YouTube content giant to amaze the viewers with exactly what they were looking for.

This week, we present to you the story of a guy who did something out of the league and created our very favorite TVF.


The Viral Fever (TVF) is an online YouTube channel started by TVF Media Labs in 2010, and currently owned and operated by Contagious Online Media. TVF was the pioneer of web-series in India with hits like Permanent Roommates and Pitchers. As of December 2018, TVF has over 5 million subscribers on YouTube.

The Journey:

The man behind this hit show of the startup world is Mr. Arunabh Kumar. They say the interesting stories come out of various ups and downs. Well, they are right. In making something great, you have to sail through all the odds. The journey of Arunabh is quite interesting as doing something new and out of the league takes a lot of courage which is exactly what makes an entrepreneur not just a survivor but a hero at the end.

Arunabh kumar TVF

Coming from a small town of Muzaffarpur, Bihar, Arunabh started out just like any ordinary young Indian kid—schooled all across India, because of his father’s job, he made it to IIT Kharagpur because that’s what all good Indian boys are supposed to do anyway. Arunabh always wanted to do something new but exactly what, even he didn’t know. Somewhere between living up to his parents’ dreams of chasing his own, he chose the second one and dropped his job as a research consultant with the US Air Force. It took him some time to figure out what exactly it was that he wanted to pursue—from being a guitarist to a UPSC aspirant, he had thought of everything, before zeroing in on the creative business.  His very first creation, The Engineer’s Diaries was rejected by MTV. What happened after that has pretty much changed the way we consume YouTube content.

From Arunabh’s bedroom and make-shift office to now employing 112 people and owning offices in major cities like Mumbai and Delhi, TVF has come a long way! The reason behind the success of TVF is solely excitement and the organic urge to tell the story, says Arunabh.

The Revenue Model:

The online content industry has emerged as a new and attractive sector in today’s startup world. Examples like TVF prove how you can earn huge from such platforms. The revenue model of TVF is as follows:

  1. YouTube Ad Sense: There is an interesting website that pulls out estimated earning for TVF to lie around $500k for the year
  2. Product Placements: Tripling had Tiago, Pitchers had Kingfisher and so on and so forth. Product placements definitely are more lucrative for both TVF and the companies because of superior ROIs.

The big difference with respect to brands that have come up these days is that instead of just adding a ‘Brought to you by’ slate to such shows, the shows are being created around a core essence of the brand. They place the products very subtly that even the entire story would revolve around that particular brand but you can not say that they are in any way forcing that brand on you. For example, Permanent Roommates season 1 was circled around a couple finding a home on thus endorsing it and so on.

Later in the future, TVF can earn by making paid premium content. The content will be accessed by only those who have paid the subscription. Monetization for good content is not a problem as people hence the brands are ready to pay for them as it serves as one of the best channels to reach out to your target customers.

Lesson For the Entrepreneurs:

So, what is there for the entrepreneurship aspirants in this story? Arunabh says it takes time, a lot of time to learn something before you actually become perfect and present to the people for what they are ready to pay you. So it is very important to enjoy what you do as only then repeating it even for a thousand times won’t be monotonous for you.

TVF dreams to be the Disney of India. With 212 uploads, 5,301,517 subscribers and 494,173,399 video views, this dream doesn’t seem something to be in the air. TVF’s shows like Rowdies, Pitchers, Permanent Roommates etc have been loved by the young viewers and hence with a lot of effort, the team has made a reputation of not being guys who make ‘Videos’ but the Brand that is producing Awesome shows.

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