According to Vishal Maheshwari, Country Head at Vuclip, Indian consumers are not even off their starting blocks in their “On Demand Video” journey, basing this statement as a function of the 3 Cs: Cost, Content and Convenience of user experience. This is a journey of many years and will take a decade to go mainstream. According to him, the most dominant trend that they have noticed among our subscribers is massive increase in the preference for consuming content in their native language.
- Q. How has Vuclip evolved since its launch back in 2008?
- A. Consumer preference has always been the focal point of our business. As a company, we believe in engaging our consumers in a way most preferable to them. Way back in 2008, when we started in the US, every other video company was focused on the American and European markets. We stayed away from the conventional as we identified where our audiences belonged, making emerging markets our destination of choice.Consumers in these markets were predominantly on voice given the high data costs and constrained networks on feature phones. We anticipated the demand for video consumption and thus made entertainment available on the screens of feature phones by leveraging our patented Dynamic Adaptive Transcoding technology. Thus, delivering a seamless buffer free video viewing experience optimized across multiple mobile devices and networks.Our evolution is a byproduct of consumer demands and preferences and it reflects in our journey so far. With mainstream entertainment making a shift to mobile phones and the increasing penchant for long form content on smartphones, we have forayed into Original content producing premium digital shows in the long form as well as snackable content for consumers on the go. The year 2017 looks promising with the line-up of 8 Original shows available in Quarter 1.
- Q. Has there been a change in the content consumption among your subscribers? What about local content?
- A. Millennials constitute a huge share of our viewership figures. From our extensive research, we have found these viewers do not want the staid content that they get on television, on their mobile phones. This content has to be fresh, youthful and trendy so as to appeal to their sensibilities. Underexposed content that fresh and contemporary works well.In terms of the kind of videos they consume, we have seen that short form snackable content still holds sway with Vuclip’s Global Video Insights Report of 2016 revealing that 85 per cent viewers consume such content on their smartphones. However, long form content consumption is increasing, thanks to the introduction of 4G and the availability of cheaper data plans.The most dominant trend that we have noticed among our subscribers is massive increase in the preference for consuming content in their native language. In fact, going Vuclip’s Global Video Insights Report of 2015, we saw that 78 per cent of subscribers have shown preference to view video content in their native languages. Therefore, at Vuclip, we lay emphasis on localization of content meaning content that is curated to appeal to each local market. For a market as diverse as India, the content mix should be such that there is something to appeal to everyone. This is the basis of our foray into ‘Originals’. We are one of the first OTT services to be co-producing digital premium shows in regional languages such as Telugu besides Hindi.
On account of employing a horses-for-courses thought process rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy, we have grown to be a leading regional OTT player. We will also use our Indian content catalogue to entertain viewers in global markets with sub-titles relevant to those markets and bringing in globally in-demand shows in languages such as Korean to entertain India.
- Q. What is it that you are setting out to achieve for Viu in India this year?
- A. It’s been one year since we have launched Viu in India. In 2016, we introduced two cricket comedies – ‘What the Duck’ and ‘Viru Ke Funde’ as part of our ‘Viu Originals’.By the end of Q1 2017, we will release 8 new digital premium shows under ‘Viu Originals’ and can expect a similar number of original shows released every quarter going forward. We have partnered with the Bollywood A-lister Vikram Bhatt for 2 Hindi Originals – ‘Gehraiyaan’ – an urban thriller and ‘Spotlight’ – a Bollywood centric plot. For the Andhra / Telangana market, we have partnered with Annapurna Studios to co-produce long form and short form shows.
- Q. What makes up the most of your user base? From where do you mainly draw your user base?
- A. As conveyed earlier, our largest user base across emerging markets including India is comprised of millennials, a demographic group which we define as people who ages 20-35. Asia is home to 60% of global millennials while millennials constitute 64% of India’s 1.3 billion population. That’s a huge number of people who are ever hungry for entertainment, have short attention spans and like to consume video content on the go through their connected devices.
- Q. Does the arrival of worldwide players represent a threat to Viu, the OTT service of Vuclip?
- A. The entry of global players in the Indian market is indeed an opportunity to push the envelope and deliver the best in terms of content and user experience. However, Indian consumers are not even off their starting blocks in their “On Demand Video” journey. I base this statement as a function of the 3 Cs: Cost, Content and Convenience of user experience. This is a journey of many years and will take a decade to go mainstream. There will be multiple players in the market, but the ones who win will be those that have the fundamentals such as the technology to deliver a superior consumer experience and ‘Deep’ pockets for content, technology and marketing spends. Also, a compelling content strategy that can magnetize viewers and increase the time they spend on the platform, is very important as well as ‘frictionless’ on-boarding of consumers without having them to pay at the start. ‘Entrepreneurial’ culture should be more focused on consumer satisfaction than on valuations.
- Q. Five years down the line, how do you see the prospect of Vuclip/Viu? Any new partnerships in view?
- A. It is our endeavour at Vuclip to make Viu the entertainment destination of choice for the youth in India within that time frame, with an enviable catalogue of content across multiple genres and languages.As far as partnerships are concerned, we will be looking at partnering with brands for sponsoring our shows under ‘Viu Originals’. We had a successful partnership with Pepsico’s 7up for ‘What the Duck!’. OTT Video on demand (VOD) services like Viu hold the potential of being an ‘End to End’ marketing solution enabling brands to target better with thematic advertisements and non-intrusive brand integrations in the video content.In addition to brands, we will continue to reinforce our longstanding relationships with telecom service providers, OEMs and payment partners.