How will launching Bigg Boss on Voot help Viacom18?

Industry experts see this as a great strategic step that will help the broadcaster increase the reach of the show and drive subscription revenues for the OTT platform

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Jul 12, 2021 8:46 AM
Bigg Boss

In a surprising move, Viacom18 last week announced that it will stream its popular reality show Bigg Boss on its OTT platform Voot first, instead of TV. The show’s season 15 will go live in August, and, after six weeks of exclusive streaming on digital, will be launched on Colors. In addition to the one-hour episode on Voot, viewers will get a chance to watch exclusive cuts, round-the-clock content drops, and a fully interactive 24*7 live feed from the house.

So, how are industry experts viewing the big move? It is a great strategic step by the broadcaster, and will only help them increase the reach of the show and drive the subscription revenues for the OTT platform, they say.

Will it negatively impact the show's TV viewership or revenue? Well, experts are uncertain about it, but say, even if there is an impact, it will not be significant.

Talking about the move, Vishal Shah, Managing Partner of media agency MediaCom, says broadcasters are doing experiments and taking the next-level leap. "We are discussing the growth of the OTT platforms for a while now. Here, the idea is to launch a popular show on OTT to attract more viewers since the TV show already has a loyal audience base. It's a good strategy to launch such a big property on OTT in an attempt to garner more users on the OTT platform," says Shah.

While Viacom18 is the first broadcaster to launch its biggest reality TV show on the OTT platform, in a similar move, Star launched its most significant sporting property Indian Premier League on Hotstar. “It helped the platform grow. The kind of growth IPL has generated for Hotstar has been tremendous. If other channels in the GEC space start investing more in the content on their OTT platforms, the growth will continue to be incremental, if not exponential,” he shares.

"But it's a wait-and-watch situation. We have to see how this pans out. The cord-cutters would definitely latch on to this. But whether it's pulling down the TV viewership or not is yet to be seen. I don't think revenues are going to be impacted, it's going to be incremental. OTT and connected TV is becoming significant. The players who are serious about OTT have to invest in OTT," he adds.

Season 14 of Bigg Boss on Colors last year registered 3.9 billion viewing minutes in its launch week, which was the highest among the previous three seasons. Despite the lull in the market due to Covid -19, the show received a great response from advertisers and had launched with 15 sponsors.

On Voot, the reality and drama genre contributes the highest viewership. According to the channel, with over 8.5 billion views, Bigg Boss has dominated the digital space with a whopping 92 percent share of voice.

Jehil Thakkar, Partner, and Head, Media and Entertainment, Deloitte India, too feels that launching Bigg Boss on Voot first is a strategic step to increase the user base on the platform.

"OTT platforms are using reality shows as well as sports to drive users to OTT platform. I don't think it will have any significant or material impact on TV viewership. It is a strategic step to increase the user base on the platform, and we have seen it with Hotstar for cricket and SonyLiv for KBC. So non- library content, which has an immediacy to it, works well to build active users on the platform," Thakkar explains.

Speaking about the monetization aspect, Karan Taurani, Senior VP, Elara Capital, says that the audience for TV and digital are both very different. "In today's world of social media, where everything becomes viral, eventually, the TV will become catch-up in this case. Therefore, it's likely to affect the eyeballs and revenues. Bigg Boss is more of a youth-oriented show, and that TG has already been targeted in a big way on OTT.”

“Now the question is if the negative impact on TV can be offset by digital? The answer to that is uncertain. In terms of eyeballs, it might be much more similar or higher, but it is unlikely that ad revenues can be higher."

"Monetization on TV and digital are two separate things. TV is very strongly driven by FMCG, auto, telecom etc, and they pay premium pricing, whereas in digital, that's not the case. Hence, advertising monetization is a challenge on OTT.  There will be a positive impact on digital as more people will subscribe to watch the show on Voot," he added.

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