Viacom18 testing Voot Premium with international content

Voot is currently geared towards consumers of Indian content

Viacom18, the entertainment-focused joint venture of TV18 Broadcast and US-based ViacomCBS, will launch a new content app focusing on premium, English language content, CEO Sudhanshu Vats said today.

Commenting on his company’s third quarter results, Vats said the app is currently undergoing beta testing.

Viacom18 currently has two apps, Voot — which largely offers Indian language content, and Voot Kids, which combines entertainment and education for kids.

The former is free, while the second is paid.

Voot Premium, which will compete with the likes of Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, will also be a paid product.

He said the new app will original content and also offer a selection of international shows and movies.

ViacomCBS is one of the world’s largest producers of entertainment content, and owns labels such as Paramount Studios, MTV, Showtime, Nickelodeon, Channel 5 UK, as well as CBS Television Studios.

The current market for premium international content is dominated by Walt Disney Co’s Hotstar, which is estimated to be used by more than 50% of all users who consume paid international content in India. Many Showtime series, such as Homeland, Billions and The Loudest Voice, are currently available in India via Hotstar.

Hotstar is followed closely by Amazon Prime Video, and less closely by Netflix, Mubi, Apple TV and others.

JioCinema, an app from group firm Reliance Jio, and Zee5 from Zee Entertainment Enterprises, also offer some international content.

Even though Vats did not reveal anything about the pricing strategy, the app is likely to be priced in the same range as Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video, both of which charge Rs 999 for annual subscription.

Vats said Voot, which is currently used by those who want to catch up on their favorite Indian language TV programs, is approaching the 100 million monthly active user (MAU) mark. For comparison, Hotstar had recorded a MAU of around 300 million during the IPL season of 2019.

Vats said Viacom18’s digital business has a target of doubling its revenue and traffic every year. “This year, we’re on track,” he said, commenting on Viacom18’s third quarter performance on CNBC TV18, TV18 group’s business news channel.

For the third quarter, Viacom18’s operating profit zoomed by over 200% to Rs 268 cr from Rs 88 cr for the same period last year, boosted by heavy cost cutting, even as poor ad revenue dragged down the top line.