Chasing content, Viacom18 to make a splash with cash

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on April 08, 2019

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO and MD, Viacom18 (File photo)

Competition in the entertainment content space is likely to get more intense in the coming days with Viacom18, which recently received licence to launch nine new channels, all set to pump in crores into its digital offerings.

The company is currently building up a content behemoth to support the additional streams along with the ever-growing digital business through its video-streaming platform Voot.

“As of now, some of the investment in content is going to TV and digital. If you look at the total investment that we are making, it runs into ₹2,000-2,500 crore. Voot will be around 10 per cent of that investment,” Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO and MD, Viacom18, told BusinessLine. “We continue to build a platform-agnostic, screen-agnostic and type-agnostic content company. Hence, we need to run faster and do many things at the same time,” Vats said.

Digital offerings

An annual investment of about ₹2,500 crore will help Viacom 18 build dominance in not just television, but also in the video streaming space where international competitors such as Netflix and Amazon and Indian competitors, including Zee5 and Hotstar, are constantly pushing the boundaries.

Viacom18 already produces close to 15,000 hours of TV content. In addition, there are 200 hours of Voot’s original content that the company is planning to scale up. While Voot is currently a small part of the company’s overall business, Vats feel the split could rapidly change, as it tries to up its digital game.

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

Voot already has about 50 million monthly active users, which is expected to double to 100 million by the end of the year.

“Up until now, TV has helped digital grow. But as the latter continues to scale up, we are looking to find profitable business models,” Vats said.

Growing the brand

The entertainment group is looking at not just investing in content but also in revenue generation. “We are going to do a battery of things to increase revenues on Voot. In order to drive advertising, we’ll drive programmatic and analytics skills. To drive deeper partnerships with advertisers, we have the Voot Studio,” Vats said.

“To drive subscription, we are bringing in two more products. Voot Kids, a new product, will be behind the pay wall. During the second half of the year, we’ll look at Voot Premium,” he added.

Through Voot Studios, Viacom 18 plans to offer brand solutions for advertisers.

“You need to tell stories that are deeper than classic click-throughs in digital. So, you need to develop stories that build the personality, soul, and in some cases, connect for the brand,” Vats said.

Published on April 08, 2019

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