Want Viacom 18 to become screen and platform-agnostic: Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO

As Viacom18 turns 10, Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats talks about the uniqueness of operating in India and shares his future plans including leveraging TV and digital and AR and focus on IPs

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18, considers himself privileged to be an executive in India.“It’s an ‘and’ country. It’s a country where there will be television and digital, at least in the foreseeable future. As long as you know how to play both and have business models for both, you are in business,” he said.

With Viacom18 completing 10 years, it unveiled its corporate brand film, suitably titled ‘Open New Worlds.’ On this occasion it also announced two major developments: Colors Tamil will be launched in February 2018 while VOOT’s subscription-based premium offering will be launched by mid-2018 and it will be taken international. Vats said, “We would like to continue to open new worlds, do things which are new, innovative and be ahead of the times. Most importantly we want to become screen and platform-agnostic. We would like to dial up experiential entertainment as well.”


In India’s competitive OTT space, Vats predicted the co-existence of free and subscription models, “India will be a hybrid country both in TV and digital; there will be both free and pay ecosystem. Players got to find their business model and content to play on that.” He also spoke about doing more original content after going behind pay wall for VOOT. Currently it has 50-60 hours of original content.
Having said that, Vats put in a word of caution, saying, “More money behind content doesn’t mean more revenue from that. There is no direct co-relation.”

Through Viacom18’s data warehouse called Data Lake they get a certain understanding of demographic (gender, age and income) of their fans, 40 per cent come in fan mail. Beginning to have a reasonable pattern on how users move from one genre to another, Vats informed us that it will all be fed into content lineup to help it segment further. He also talked about mounting pilots soon. “On TV we will do more of certain programmes and will know when to do what and how to sort of decide the FPC as we go forward. We will also do certain pilots. Now you can pilot it on a large basis. Going forward my dream is we can even crowdsource. So you start with a pilot then crowdsource the story in one medium and play it on another.” He is also looking at Augmented Reality in some areas of television.

On the digital platform Vats pointed out that their recommendation engine is becoming more robust. “It will start guiding you on what you can watch next. It dials up the watch-time and understands you well.”

As we can see, Viacom18’s thrust will be a lot on digital and experiential going by the recent rapid consumption of the former medium. The Group CEO also revealed that they are continuing to invest in creating new IPs across genres and formats. He signed off saying, “At the end of the day we are storytellers. As long as I am able to tell a good story I am in business. Then I have to evolve business models for monetising it.” For more updates, be socially connected with us on
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