Exclusive Interview: Voot Select Bags 1 Million+ Paid Subscribers in One Year; Upcoming Launches and More

Voot Select, in conversation with Trak.in shares its upcoming launch plans and the past year experience.
Voot Select, in conversation with Trak.in shares its upcoming launch plans and the past year experience.

Viacom18’s premium subscription led video on demand streaming service, Voot Select has clocked in an active paid subscriber base of over a million, in only a year’s time.

Launched on March 3, 2020, Viacom18’s OTT platform Voot Select has successfully and very flamboyantly completed its one year of operation. 

The platform is home to some critically acclaimed originals like Asur, Raikar Case, Marzi and The Gone Game, among others, in addition to specially curated international content and live TV streaming 24 hours, ranging across 10 languages.

On account of Voot Select’s one year completion, Ferzad Palia, Head – Voot Select & International Business, Viacom18 engaged in a detailed discussion with Trak.in, sharing the challenges and experiences of the past year, in addition to the plan layout of 2021.

The OTT platform’s palette for the last one year looks kaleidoscopic, as it has methodically managed to flush its platform with banks of Originals, international content and innovative engagement strategies like ‘digital first’ for its network of television content, making the most of the Covid-induced lull in lifestyle.

Palia agrees that the Covid-hit period has indeed turned out to be a silver lining for Voot Select and adds that it has acted as a catalyst for them. “It accelerated our expected rate of sampling”.

Past One Year Experience amidst Covid-19

Voot Select, launched only days before the nationwide lockdown struck down, had to shift their entire workstations at home after only two weeks of operation.

“It was a landmark year for OTT as a whole. I think we were fortunate to launch before the pandemic. It was also very challenging because we launched just two weeks before all of us needed to work from home. That obviously was very challenging for us. We launched on March 3 and by 16th or 17th, we all had to work from home. For a content tech kind of play like ours, that is always very difficult, especially in the initial phase.”, says Palia, while addressing the challenges faced by the platform.

Ferzad Palia, Head – Voot Select & International Business, Viacom18

However, he also added that the entire team adapted to the situation quickly, which helped them lay a strong foundation for the platform.

Voot Select’s first launch was its original crime thriller series Asur, which not only propelled the momentum for the platform but also found itself among the top three shows of 2020.

“I would definitely credit Asur with a lot of our subscribers in the first few months, at least. It continues being among the most looked forward to series, for Season 2”.

Owing to the standards and variety of viewable content on its platform, Voot Select has gripped over a million active paying subscribers in less than a year, which as Palia adds, “is probably the fastest, any OTT in India has got to a million active subscribers.”

Change in Operational Strategies and the Ingenious Lockdown Series

On being asked about the changes adapted by Voot Select to make the most out of the pandemic, Palia replies, “The biggest change in strategy that we had yo make was in marketing, as we had some marketing plans that involved multiple media options but then it had to be changed because of the pandemic. We had to reorganise our spends and promotional approaches; that was the biggest change.”

Palia also spoke about the platform’s ingeniously created lockdown series, ‘The Gone Game’, which was entirely thought of, shot and produced in the lockdown, in a period of only 2-3 months. No actor met the other and everything was done virtually. “It was a really hard one to pull out but we are very proud of it.”

Palia adds that if a platform has a good offering in terms of content, the Indian consumer is now willing to pay for it.

Voot Select has exceeded every single conceivable target, from the subscriber, revenue and consumption point of views. The screen time of average users has crossed 120 minutes/day in some cases.

Furthermore, the subscription renewal rate for Voot Select has been exceptionally high, to which Palia adds, “It is an amazing stat for us, as getting people on the back of one single show is easy, compared to them paying you every month. So, they are obviously liking what they are experiencing.”

He confidently adds that Voot Select is among the top two OTT services by subscription, in the country.

Regional Content and Addition of New Originals in FY22

Speaking of increasing trends in regional content absorption, Palia informs that tapping into the said sector is Voot’s key focus area in FY22.

Voot Select already has 5 regional originals in Tamil and Bangla languages, in line and it will be launching 10-12 more regional shows, along with 10-12 Hindi originals in the upcoming 12 months.

Currently, Voot Select streams all of its shows in different languages across the platform so that its viewers do not miss on the opportunity of consuming great content on the front of language barrier.

Palia adds that while currently the chunk of subscriptions on its platform are high from the top 10 metro cities, the contributing percentage is showing a rapid increase from regions outside this circle.

“We are in the middle of Big Boss Kannada right now, as we speak. We have a 24-hour live channel for our Kannada viewers, where they can watch Big Boss live from the house.”, says Palia.

Voot’s Foray into International Markets

Voot has expanded into the US market last month and is available on Sling TV. It will launch into international markets over the next 12 months, while doubling down on international content.

Voot Select is now the exclusive home for studios like CBS, CBS All Access, Showtime, Fremantle, Endemol Shine, Chelsea TV, Arsenal TV, Real Madrid TV, BBC, and Sony Pictures, among others.

Adding to the content diversity, it will also be an exclusive destination for upcoming Paramount+ shows in the country. The diverse repertoire of international content will include  much awaited titles such as Dexter (Limited Series), Ray Donavan Feature-Length Film,  The First Lady from showtime and Frasier (Reboot) & Why Women Kill S2 from Paramount+ among others, expected to premiere on the platform in India.

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