Regional content drives 4x growth for us: Akash Banerji, VOOT

If 2019 was about setting targets, this year for VOOT will be about achieving them. Akash Banerji, Business Head- AVoD shares what has helped VOOT bag 100 MAUs and also his vision for the platform

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Updated: Jan 15, 2020 9:42 AM

The Viacom 18-owned, video-streaming platform VOOT has started 2020 on a strong footing. It now boasts of 100 million monthly active users and 100 billion minutes of watch time, thanks to blockbuster reality TV show Bigg Boss. With this, the video-streaming platform claims to have emerged as the most-engaged premium AVOD platform. 

Sharing VOOT’s milestone journey Akash Banerji, Business Head- AVoD says, “This number needs to be seen in conjunction with another number, which is the extent of engagement that you are getting from these users. What we’ve seen this year is that our users are going to drive 100 bn minutes of watch time and this is a representation of how engaged our users are with respect to the platform.”

He adds, “We look at engagement from two specific lenses. One is the TSV, which is the time spent per viewer per day, which is close to 46 mins as per App Annie Dec 2019. And two, from an engagement point of view, we look at the frequency of visits which is daily active user (DAU) to monthly active user (MAU) ratio. And as per the latest December numbers, we are hovering at 34 per cent and which along with our TSV numbers, making us the number one engaged OTT platform on the premium AVOD platform.”

Diversity of audiences on the platform is also something VOOT highlights. They claim to have an even spread of male and female audience. Close to 51- 52 per cent of the audience on VOOT is now female. Around 65 per cent of their audiences now comes from Tier 2-Tier 3 markets.

Elaborating on the massive roster of reality shows like Big Boss, Khatron Ke Khiladi, Roadies, Splitsvilla etc. which has helped them drive viewership, Banerji says, “In fact Big Boss this time around is helping us garner close to billion-plus views, making it India’s biggest digital entertainment property. Within that, we have created a lot of newer content pieces, a lot of mini-shows around shows, as an extra innings format to review the shows. Not only reality shows but also drama and fiction shows drive massive consumption and massive retention of consumers”

Elaborating on his new user acquisition formula, he says, “Sixty per cent of my new user acquisition comes on the back of reality shows and a lot of them eventually start watching the non-reality content as well. What we see as an interesting data point is that 70 per cent of my consumption on the platform is actually driven by drama shows.“

VOOT’s focus on vernacular content has also been a driving force for the business, “Regional today is driving 4x growth for us” says Banerji.

On the regional front, it has been a year of firsts for the platform. The launch of the exclusive VOOT Telugu and their interactive formats, which are now across regional content as well. Banerji shares that this has led to a monetisation contribution from regional, which actually mirrors the regional contribution to consumption. “So, if my regional contributes to closely about 25 per cent of my platform, my monetisation contribution from regional is close to 22-23 per cent, which is big news for us,” he adds.

Being an AVOD-only platform, VOOT has had a focused approach to help advertisers optimise their ad spends. Their VOOT Studio initiative launched last year in April has helped brands deliver their narrative further.

According to Banerji, ten percent of their monetisation today has been at the back of VOOT Studio. “We hope to double this to 20 per cent going forward,” he says.

And order to ensure transparency and to help brands efficiently measure impact, VOOT says they have the best in class industry benchmarks for viewability and in-targets.

VOOT is backed by third-party tools like Moat and Nielsen DAR; its in-house DMP Mavaric and programmatic. Banerji agrees, however, that growth in the OTT space will be even better if backed by a robust industry measurement system.

“The big thing missing today is a third-party ad measurement. I feel the day it gets implemented, it will get more advertisers to start spending much more on a digital platform From a VOOT and a Viacom 18 point of view, we want to encourage the implementation of a third-party digital measurement body.”

Banerji believes that for VOOT, the story is not only in the gross downloads, MAUs or watch time but also in maximising CLT-consumer lifetime value. He says, “We want to know, target and calculate the value of each user, what he or she brings to the table, and the cost of servicing that user.”

“The day we are able to do that at scale for every user, it will be a stepping stone towards making VOOT the first business to be a profitable AVOD platform, which is also my vision for 2020,” he adds.

The company has already taken giant strides towards making that a possibility. “We already started becoming unit economics positive. But from an overall P&L point of view, I think by the end of the fiscal year, which is March 2020, and maybe one more quarter, we will be in good shape. We are now moving in the direction of profitability. If everything goes on well we should be well poised to drive profitability in 2020.”

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