Is data science behind the hugely popular Voot Originals? Viacom18 COO explains

At a time when most Video On Demand (VOD) players are still perfecting the art of rolling out originals, Voot – Viacom 18’s VOD platform for web and mobile has made dishing out VOOT originals an absolute science. With a big focus on data science as a company, Viacom launched Its VOD platform earlier last year and is now scripting success with its data-led approach to content creation, segmentation and targeting.

Over the last couple of years, digital video viewing in India has become a hotly contested space, accounts for 60% of mobile data traffic and is expected to rise to 78% by 2021. The market is dominated by Star India’s streaming platform – Hotstar, currently the leading player in the VOD space in India. And now Voot, the relatively young competitor is surging ahead. In an exclusive chat with Analytics India Magazine, Gaurav Gandhi, COO, Viacom18 Digital Ventures reveals how data analytics is playing a big role in scripting Voot’s success story, driving conversions, and maximizing customer engagement.

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The numbers tell the positive growth story – a user base of 22 million monthly active users with an average daily base of 2.2 million and the average clock time of 45 minutes per user per day, revealed Gandhi. “The market is growing at a fast pace and we are happy to be part of it and grow with it,” he said.

Data and consumer insights script Voot Originals

Voot Originals have soared in popularity with eight originals being streamed on the platform, since its launch last year. According to Gandhi, Viacom18 has an aggressive Original strategy with content that is tailored for the audience and strikes a chord with them. So how does Viacom keep a tab on the viewer’s changing media consumption habits and crank out relatable content?

Here’s what the modus operandi looks like – the company uses a combination of consumer insights developed through primary research as well data analytics coming out of Voots consumption and then its put together to get a better understanding of what the audience. We then marry the insights and build our content based on this, Gandhi shared. In the last one year, most originals have come out of India’s biggest film production company YRF and now Viacom18 is creating a niche in this area with interesting originals that appeal to the audience. In fact, Gandhi reveals that the company is in the process of reviving a show exclusively for Voot, which was shut down for TV, strongly based analytics insights. “We are creating a new series on it and this comes out of really understanding the user behavior,” he added.

Customer acquisition is deep science at Voot

At Viacom18, deep science is applied to the acquisition of customer as well. Through the use of tools such as AppsFlyer , the team determines what’s the best source of conversion. “Our use of data analytics starts with the time we acquire a customer, we like to get a sense of where all do we use analytics and then we come to strategy,” he said. Tools like AppsFlyer help identify the best source of conversion and this helps in optimizing on the pricing and other factors.

Then, it’s on to the next level of analytics where tools such as Appsee app analytics gives the team an understanding of how customers are interacting with the app. This tool enables the team to determine a better app UI and lays out the heat maps, the user’s typical journey and how he/she uses the app fundamentally. “It answers questions such as whether the UI works for the users, are there any crashes, the movements across the verticals in my app,” he said.

Then, it’s on to the main analytics tools that gives a 360 degree view of user and helps the team determine how well the recommendations are working with the user. By marrying all the data and putting it back in the recommendation engine, the team is able to send targeted notifications to the user, based on the app behavior and usage.

Teaming up with Ooyala Pulse to drive monetization

Earlier last year, Voot partnered with Ooyala Pulse to manage and deliver video ad campaigns across the mobile app and desktop experience as well. Ooyala tailors ad campaigns with deep granular functionality, supporting all industry-standard ad formats as well as ad placements. Ooyala’s pre-built forecasting analytics enables the customer to see in real-time the current status of all ad campaigns, adjusting details as needed to ensure goals are met. The key to monetization is personalization and in the hotly contested VOD space, there are many players that are struggling to retain their customer base.  Here’s how it works at Viacom18. “When you want to start targeted campaigns for the new content, an advertising deal or even pilot an episode tomorrow and preview it to the most loyal users of that show or that kind of genre, you want a targeted audience set. Through Ooyala, we can target this demographics,” said Gandhi.

Focus Areas

While Hotstar has already dipped their toes in Virtual Reality, with VR offerings centred around Kabaddi, with a 2-dimensional 180 degree experience via a mobile phone, Viacom18 is also mulling a 360 degree experience for one of its shows. Given its vast content library, including Colors, MTV and Nick, Voot has an added advantage of offering an experiential viewing experience to users. The company’s other focus areas a) expanding the genres and looking at more regional content and b) taking Voot international by expanding overseas. Commenting on scope of VR in India, Gandhi said the technology is still at a nascent stage and will get a boost with VR experiences with phones offering stellar viewing experience.


Richa Bhatia
Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.

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