Sudhanshu Vats on Viacom18's OTT platform, content strategy
For broadcaster Viacom18, 2015 was an eventful year. The joint venture of US-based Viacom Inc and Reliance Industries-controlled Network18 Media & Investments Ltd launched English general entertainment channel Colors Infinity and its first kids HD premium channel, Nick HD+, during the year. It also re-branded its regional entertainment channels under the flagship brand Colors and named its over-the-top platform VOOT.
The broadcaster is now looking at building products that provide short-term gain, though it has no plans to enter the sports broadcast business. In a conversation, Viacom18 Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats talks about the network's offering in India. Excerpts:
Among all the broadcasters you are the last one to announce the roll-out of your over-the-top (OTT) platform, VOOT. What took you so long?
We have always had a digital play. For example, we have a mobile application for our popular reality show Bigg Boss, which is updated every season. It's an interactive app which gives viewers a sneak peek into the house and its members' day-to-day affairs. As for the OTT platform, we felt it is about time we have our own play. Digital has become another important platform as consumers watch content on all kinds of screens. Thus, it becomes pertinent that our content is also made available across all platforms â€“ from conventional television to newer-age digital platforms. Therefore, you find us playing this role.
A lot of broadcasters are using films to increase viewership on their OTT platforms. Do you plan to use the library from Viacom18 Motion Pictures to draw the crowd? Also, can we expect digital premiers?
A movie is best enjoyed on the big screen, followed by television â€“ both will remain. We can expect more movies to be streamed on the smaller screen. Presently, there two kinds of people who watch movies online. First, people who work in urban cities and are pressed for time. Second, students and a section of people who are well-established financially tend to watch movies online.
In case of the second set of consumers, a broadcaster cannot expect one to pay a subscription fee, so most of the time it's the first set of consumers who pay. Even as we can expect a rise in films being shown online, people who have the option will first enjoy the movie on the big screen followed by television.