Viacom18-owned Voot charts future growth strategy

MUMBAI: Having achieved 100 billion minutes of watch time in just three years of its launch, Viacom18’s video streaming platform Voot has come up with a new growth strategy to become bigger and better.

Voot, which claims to be the second largest advertising video on demand (AVoD) platform, is targeting 100 million monthly active users (MAUs) on the back of original content and enhanced distribution footprint. Currently, the platform boasts of 55 million MAUs.

As part of its future growth strategy, the platform will be scaling up its content library with a robust line-up of over 30+ Voot Originals across genres and languages, to be launched this fiscal.

Some of the original shows include ‘Law and Honour’, ‘Naaz’, ‘Love All’, ‘The Raikar Case’, ‘Kaisi Yeh Yaariaan – Season 4’, ‘Marzi’ and ‘Asura’ are few of the Voot Originals that will be launched shortly.

The plan is to launch atleast one original show a month. The language originals will also play a key role. The original content will be launched across genres and languages.

Voot, which is now available on iOS, Android, Web, and Amazon Fire TV, has further strengthened its technology and distribution system by announcing over 20+ new distribution partners across the travel, broadband and mobile ecosystem as well as with OEMs.

The platform has partnered with smart TV manufacturer CloudWalker, content sharing platform ShareIt, wired broadband service provider ACT Fibernet and travel network company Ola amongst the others.

It is also diversifying its business model from being just ad-supported to four models. Having established the Voot AVoD plans are afoot to launch Voot kids as a separate subscription service. Voot Kids is currently in beta mode and is expected to launch in the coming months.

Voot Kids will go beyond watch and video and will bring in watch, read, listen and learn. There will be e-books, audio books, audio jingles, gaming and parental control.

The third model is Voot International. As part of the global strategy, the platform has launched in UK with Virgin Media and is now looking at other markets like the US.

Then there is Voot Freemium model which will come in the second half of the fiscal. The endeavour here is to give customers who are consuming free content to upgrade to pay model.

Viacom group CEO, MD Sudhanshu Vats said, “Voot has crossed the 100 billion watch minutes’ mark in three years and we are now targeting 100 million monthly active users within this financial year. Additionally, we are segmenting the Voot business into 4 uniquely focussed propositions – the existing AVoD model and the upcoming freemium offering, Voot Kids and Voot International.”

On the advertising front, the company is making a push in the branded content arena. Institutionalising the branded content play, Voot has launched Voot Studios – a business performance-oriented content technology solution for advertisers looking to connect with digital audiences with branded shows, sponsorships, interactive formats in addition to other bespoke solutions.

Voot has also created a set of new ad formats that are differentiated and drive value for consumers. They are also extremely native to the consumer so that consumer experience does not get disrupted.

With the proliferation of digital content and its increasing consumption across mediums, understanding consumer behaviour now plays a critical role. Voot’s consumer insights product Mavaric aims to help advertisers identify the right audience thus ensuring high impact via communication.

Mavaric aims to help advertisers with consumer insights as well as target their messaging beyond simple demographic profiles and instead focuses on enhanced insights around online behaviour, purchase behaviour, affinity and interest and more. Insights clubbed with interactivity solutions will allow brands to provide immersive brand engagements.

The aim is to transform big data into actionable consumer insights. Brands ask for richer insight beyond demographics, said Voot. Over 300,000-500,000 behaviors have been aggregated by Voot and these have been turned into rich insights for the brands. Algorithms and machine learning play an important role.

India, Vats said, is the most promising streaming market in the world and therefore everybody is participating. Consolidation and convergence will happen in the future but for now everybody wants to play individually with their strength.

He also said that Voot is a very important business for Viacom18 as the company wants to be a screen, platform agnostic storyteller that is well entrenched today but which is equally well geared up for tomorrow.

As far as OTT business is concerned, Vats stated that the Indian broadcasters have been ahead of their American peers in getting their act together. Having started with a large ad supported play, the Indian broadcasters are now looking aggressively looking at the SVoD model.

He also noted that content aggregators are also making an effort but this area is a challenge in the country. Telcos, he said, are ahead of the curve in their thinking especially Reliance Jio.

Speaking about the branded content play for Voot, Akash Banerji who heads the Voot AVoD business, said, “Brands today realise regular ad spot while important is not sufficient to drive resonance with the consumer. Branded content solution is hence the way forward given that it allows for bespoke content curation and subtle communication embedded into the narrative of the show. Voot Studios will allow brands to bring the world of story-telling, data and tech all together to deliver the brand message and the ROI effectively for the business.”

He added that Voot targets different kinds of consumers. The first ones are the catch up viewers who watch long form content and for this Voot has 60,000 hours of content. Here, the depth of library is important. These viewers come from across languages, genres. They drive engagement and retention. Then there are the insatiables who want to watch, know and consume more than what is there on television. These are consumers of what Banerji called Unseen Undekha. Therefore, Voot has curated 50,000 pieces of unique content pieces for these audiences.

The next segment of viewers is the show loyalists who will follow a show regardless of the platform that it is on. Then there are the experimenters who want something new and different.

The aim here for Voot is to go beyond genres like dramas and romance and raise the bar. For this, Voot has worked in the areas of short films, e-sports and news. Voot created 12 short movies under the banner Short Cuts. This gave Voot a completely different set of audience.

Banerji also emphasised that Voot’s TG is not limited to young, male urban Metro Hindi and English speaking audiences. In fact, 53% of viewership comes from women audience. The other big target audience is the non-Metros viewers.

Voot is also seeing a huge increase in the rise of non-millennials. The platform is not just being consumed by the 18-24 TG and is not only about the Hindi market. A huge growth is being seen in the vernacular market. He also said that Voot does not believe in flirting with viewers through a 30 day free trial period. The aim is to build long lasting relationships with the consumers.

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