“We currently have over 15 million monthly active users”
Gaurav Gandhi, COO of Viacom18 Digital Ventures revealed in an interview with NexTV News India that its OTT platform VOOT has over 15 million monthly active users and a daily watch time of 50 min per user. Gandhi also declared that Viacom18 is planning to launch VOOT across other international markets.
- Q. With numerous players, already present in the OTT market in India? What is the positioning for VOOT? No. of subscribers since its launch?
- A. VOOT is the ‘Happy Entertainment Pitstop’ for an India racing to go digital. At the core of the brand, VOOT stands for ‘happiness’ and ‘infectious fun’ and this thought will reflect in everything we do. Our positioning is very distinct and well supported by the product and content. VOOT, in less than 7 months, has become the third largest online video destination in the country. We currently have over 15 million monthly active users, and a daily watch time of 50 min per user. We have crossed 16 million app downloads in this period, have made it to the coveted Google Play “Best Apps of the Year 2016” and have set new trends in Original content creation (VOOT originals) and Kids content (VOOT Kids). I would say it has been a very good start.
- Q.What is the revenue model for VOOT platform? Do you think that ad revenue model remains the best option for OTT platforms?
- A. VOOT is currently working with an ad supported revenue model, which at this point in time is the ideal one to operate with, as the subscription model currently remains a small opportunity. The reasons for subscription model to be limited right now are linked to people’s mindset on paying for content (over and above data costs) and especially then benchmarking the price to the cable price where you get 400 channels for INR250-300. Also, till very recently, digital payment gateways were an issue.
Advertising on the other hand remains a large opportunity. As a matter of fact, over the next 4-5 years the digital video advertising market is expected to be USD 1 bn market. The rapid move towards 4G, rationalization of data prices coupled with the recent moves to augment digital payment ecosystems augurs well for building our subscription models going forward. With content creators raring to put out high quality content, the willingness of consumers to pay for it will also increase, in the next 18-24 months.
- Q.VOOT launched the VOOT Kids apps, what are the strategies behind and what’s VOOT’s target age group?
- A. VOOT Kids is specially designed segment within the main VOOT app, targeted to 2-10 year old kids. ‘Screenagers’ – as we call them – is a segment that is growing up with these screens. They want to be entertained, want their favorite shows anytime & on any screen and they command tremendous “Pester Power”, hence we believe this is an extremely key audience group to target and going forward this group that is going to grow up and largely consume content on demand. On VOOT, close to 15% of all users are kids, which is more skewed to the mobile app (than the web). Given the demographic and their consumption patterns, this segment is only set to grow further. From content stand point we have over a 100+ popular characters and close to 8000 videos including all of Viacom/Viacom 18 owned characters as well as the popular characters & toons from the Turner library along with many others.
- Q. Original content for an OTT platform is vital, what are the challenges of acquiring original content in India?
- A. We have a huge focus on building original content for VOOT. We have already launched 6 VOOT originals and the 7th one will launch shortly. We work with a lots of good writers (most of these are mainstream film writers), some very talented technicians and experienced as well as new-age creators for these shows. Our creative team does the heavy lifting in terms of putting the project together and then we get line producers to produce these. We are committed to creating quality original content for VOOT and have been releasing a new VOOT original every 6-8 weeks. With our last 2 original series- Swara Bhaskar starrer ‘It’s Not that Simple’ as well as ‘Shaadi Boys’ we received tremendous success.
The challenge in this space is to continuously keep pushing the envelope to come with original ideas that find resonance with the discerning digital audience – especially the ones who are moving away from Indian television content.
- Q. According to you, is short format content more adaptable for an OTT platform?
- A. Our users spend around 50 mins on the VOOT each day – which is a huge number. We strongly believe that if the content is compelling, users stick and watch the show. On mainstream VOD platforms like VOOT, where premium quality content is available, users easily watch a 20-30 min episode at one go. We have seen a binge-watching phenomenon for our original series as well.
We also see a huge off-take of original short form content (never seen on TV) around our big reality shows as well. Given that most consumption is on mobile, shows are watched much more than feature films. So in that sense shorter 20-30 min shows work better.
- Q. In the next one year, where do you see VOOT evolution in the OTT landscape?
- A. VOOT already is the 3rd largest online video destination in the country and has had great success in its first 6 months. We have close to 80 advertisers on board and now have a strong ad-sales revenue momentum as well. We will build on this growth and drive up our daily user base and watch time further. This will be on the back of the robust growth in the overall digital adoption, enhancement of more product features at our end and even more compelling content. We will also launch VOOT across other international markets as well as explore emerging revenue streams in this space.