Voot Select to be among top SVoD platforms in the country: Sudhanshu Vats

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO & MD, Viacom18, shares more on the digital first strategy and entering the OTT market

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Mar 4, 2020 8:46 AM
Voot

After four years of its foray into digital space, Viacom18 has now launched its subscription-based Video on Demand service Voot Select.

Apart from bringing over 30 Original shows, movies and global content through partnerships with some of the biggest international studios, the network also aims at bringing its extensive portfolio of channels on the digital platform 24 hours before the episodes debut on TV.

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO & MD, Viacom18 said, “Voot Select is part our digital first strategy and that's a very important milestone for us. The reason I say that is because of India now getting ready to watch a lot of digital content in their living rooms with the fibre to home revolution being brought by Jio. The number of people who will be watching on television in our judgement will exponentially rise in the next two to three years. We are launching Voot Select in this context and backdrop. The SVoD platform will have content 24 hours before TV. That's why we are keeping the now big screen or TV screen in mind.”

On entering the SVoD space now when the OTT market is already cluttered with domestic and international platforms, Vats said: “Voot was launched in 2016 and we have got 100 million MAUs on Voot. It's one of the most engaged platforms with the time spent being about 50 minutes. Also, recently we broke even at the unit economic level on Voot. Our assessment is India is now ready for SVoD and the numbers will continue to grow. You need to have substantial subscribers to make the right investment. We already stand out in the AVoD space. Our platform is twice bigger than the other two platforms together. We are very confident that we should be amongst the top two or three platforms in the country. Our confidence comes from our ability to make great content and our progressive ability to bring good quality products with technology and engineering. The question is not about how long you take to launch, but it is about being ready and at the right time.”

Speaking about the growing OTT space in India, Gourav Rakshit, COO, Viacom18 Digital Ventures said, “The last decade was very much about free consumption. If we look at the West, 40 per cent of audiences actually have at least one paid subscription service. I think while India may not get all the way to 40 per cent, this next decade will be all about subscription services. That's the kind of space I see Voot Select playing in, hopefully dominating in terms of where we go from here. Our journey on AVoD business, which is advertising supported, has been a rewarding one and we're quite happy that we're now operating profitable in that business. That also gives us the ability to invest in some of the other sectors. Right now, we can definitely try and tackle this from a pure investment point of view.”

Viacom18 will continue to produce Original content for AVoD.

Ferzad Palia, Head - Voot Select, Youth, Music and English Entertainment, Viacom18 said: “We are looking at about 30 originals both in Hindi and regional languages. We already have three Tamil and two Bengali shows ready, which will launch the next 30 to 60 days. We're focused on making stories which resonate to a broad set of people. We will also make some stories which are only for a particular segment because we need to cater to different segments as well.”

Speaking on the distribution strategy, Palia added, “For us, we're very clear that we are a direct to consumer business first. We will also do partnerships which are relevant and make sense from business and consumer point of views. If the market moves to a model where it is, these subscriptions are largely being made available and is becoming far more convenient for the consumer. We will evolve as the market goes but the very clear fact is that we're a direct to consumer business at the heart of what we do.”

Voot Select will be the network's second paid digital platform after its first paid digital platform Voot Kids that was launched in November last year.

Voot Select has been priced at Rs 99 per month or at Rs 999 per year with an exclusive offer price of Rs 499 per year.

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