Voot might launch subscription service in next 4-5 months: Akash Banerji

MUMBAI: Viacom18-owned over the top (OTT) platform Voot plans to launch its subscription video on demand (SVoD) service in the next four to five months, a senior company official has said.

The launch of premium ad-free offering on the platform has been on the company’s radar for some time. Currently, Voot is a pre-dominantly ad-supported service. Apart from TV content and movies, the platform also offers original web content sourced from the TV properties as well as original web series.

The SVoD platform was expected to debut in 2018. The service was expected to feature exclusive digital original content, international series, and movies in addition to the Viacom18 network content.

Viacom 18 Digital Ventures head marketing and partnerships Akash Banerji said that the SVoD service, which is in the works, will also have live streaming of entertainment channels.

“In next 4 to 5 months, we might be launching the subscription service. We will also launch live streaming of entertainment channels like we did for news channels. The live TV for entertainment will be behind the paywall,” Banerji told TelevisionPost.com on the sidelines of the launch of the short-film initiative.

For 2019, Voot will be doubling down its efforts to scale-up the original content offering. The focus will be to create original content in unexplored genres. After Hindi, the platform is exploring the Kannada language to create original content. The first Kannada original ‘Comediga’, which is a stand-up comedy, was launched about two weeks back.

On the Hindi side, the platform has already launched ‘Not That Simple’ season 2 and celebrity chat show ‘Feet Up With The Stars’. Banerji stated that the aim is to add new content every 4 to 6 weeks on the platform.

“This year, we are going to experiment with different genres and unexplored themes which the consumer doesn’t necessarily get to see on TV. We are also looking at acquiring original content but our biggest thrust will be on creating them,” Banerji noted.

The strategy for the platform, explained Banerji, is two-fold. One is to acquire customers on the back of marquee content and then retaining them through the depth of library.

Speaking about the progress made in 2018, Banerji said that the platform saw significant growth in terms scale as well as monetisation. He also claims that the platform is one of the top players in the OTT market in terms of time spent on consuming content.

Queried about the consumption patterns on the platform, Banerji said that the Hindi and regional languages have an equal contribution at 40-45% each while 5-10% consumption happens on the English content.

“Our Hindi language consumption is growing by 3x whereas our regional language consumption is growing by 6x. There is a meteoric rise in the appetite of consumers to watch the content of their choice, that’s where the Viacom18 network is going to play a very important role. We get the TV network to create content in their language not just for TV but also for Voot,” he noted.

To ensure seamless streaming experience, the company is also doubling down its efforts on the product and technology part as well. It is also looking at partnerships with third-party content platforms.