Anirban Roy Choudhury

Unseen Undekha, Cutless, Bigg Buzz...a look at VOOT’s Bigg Boss strategy

“In absolute terms, Bigg Boss makes more money for us than any other VOOT property,” says Gaurav Gandhi, COO, Viacom18 digital ventures.

Not always does one need to spend a lot to create quality and captivating content. VOOT’s experiment with Bigg Boss is a great example of that. Endemol Shine produced Bigg Boss, is a daily TV show that airs on Hindi General Entertainment Channel Colors and is one of the marquee TV properties in India. Viacom18’s digital video-on-demand platform has used the TV asset as a tool to get a huge number of eyeballs on the advertising based video-on-demand (AVOD) platform. Apart from the TV episode, VOOT has ‘Unseen Undekha’ and ‘Cutless’, digital shows created with the content that was shot but not used in the TV broadcast.

Gaurav Gandhi, COO, Viacom18 digital ventures, terms this as ‘Content around Content (CAC) strategy.’ “For Bigg Boss this year, we are all set to cross 1 billion views on VOOT and of these, content exclusively created for VOOT (not on TV) contributes 55 per cent (approximately),” he adds. Other than stock footage from the Bigg Boss house, this year VOOT has created a magazine show-Bigg Buzz- hosted by Being Indian fame, Sahil Khattar and former Bigg Boss contestant Priya Malik.

Unseen Undekha, Cutless, Bigg Buzz...a look at VOOT’s Bigg Boss strategy
Gaurav Gandhi

“The show features trending Tweets, comments, reviews, memes, GIFs, posts, videos etc. created by Bigg Boss fans. Our anchors have their eyes and ears open for anything that is creating waves on social media with regards to Bigg Boss,” informs Gandhi. In the show, the two anchors discuss the week gone by and in some cases, speak to evicted contestants to get in-house gossip for the viewers.

VOOT’s team works closely with the Colors content team and Endemol Shine and the digital versions are executed under the supervision of VOOT’s personnel. “Bigg Boss is like a cricket match, what you see on TV are the highlights. A fan will say highlights are amazing, let me go and see more and that’s when they come to Unseen Undekha and Cutless. The audience is the same so we work closely with the TV team, but the purposes are different; so we have a VOOT creative team which looks after the content,” adds Gandhi.

Since Gandhi talks about sports, to put it into perspective, VOOT is now one of the top three digital video-on-demand platforms in India in terms of number of viewers and it reached this feat without any sports content in its portfolio. Sports is considered one of the biggest crowd-pullers in India and Hotstar, which is second only to YouTube in India, has garnered huge numbers because of its sports offerings. “For us, to some extent, Bigg Boss does what sports do for other platforms. This is the property that goes on for about 100 days every year and it’s just like a major sporting event,” opines Gandhi.

It’s not only viewers, Bigg Boss rakes in serious dollars for the video-on-demand platform too. Gandhi’s sales team has roped in five sponsors for Bigg Boss on VOOT. Dabur Red Gel has associated itself as title sponsor while Emami Fair and Handsome Laser 12, Timex Watches, Goibibo, and Mc Dowell’s No 1 Soda have joined as partners. “In addition, we have over 20 advertisers who are associated with inventory on the property,” informs Gandhi.

“In absolute terms, Bigg Boss makes more money for us than any of our other VOOT properties. In fact, this is one of the largest entertainment properties on digital in India. It goes on for over 100 days and is truly a mass property, popular across the length and breadth of the country,” Gandhi adds.

Dabur was once a regular on TV during a Bigg Boss ad break, “We have been associating with the show for a long time now. Bigg Boss, as a format, is sticky and viewers watch it for the whole season; it is not one of those properties where people come and go,” says Rajiv Dubey, head-media, Dabur India.

However, the Ayurvedic product specialists are not present on TV this year, “The TV space has become very crowded now and here on VOOT, we are the title sponsor, so we are differentiated from the rest and have a notable presence, we are not just one in the crowd. To me, we are as good as Appy Fizz on TV and we have invested far less compared to the TV buyers,” informs Dubey.

Unseen Undekha, Cutless, Bigg Buzz...a look at VOOT’s Bigg Boss strategy
Rajiv Dubey

Like Gandhi, Dubey also believes that the audience on VOOT is very similar to that of Colors. “It’s the same audience who like the show, follow it regularly, but cannot catch it on TV at 10.30 pm. Hencel, they go to VOOT and watch it and it’s not only an urban phenomenon anymore, now, it’s pretty much Pan-India,” opines the Dabur executive.

Dabur has associated with VOOT on a pay-per-view model. The two parties have agreed to an amount before the association and now, as title sponsor, Dabur will pay that agreed amount per-view, to the platform. But what about calculating returns on investment; India does not have a third party measurement body measuring digital yet, so the brands have to rely on the publisher for data? “Yes, we don’t get any GRPs yet from a third party measurement body. So, One way for us to calculate the ROI of digital planning, at this stage, is you benchmark it against a video buy on Hotstar or YouTube and then see where you stand,” informs Dubey.

Content around content is a very little-explored opportunity in India and it’s across all genres. Its live sports that gets all the viewership and there is very little non-live content created today; in movies too it’s the cinema that rakes in the views. While in established American and European markets, content around content has tasted huge success; stories of sports personalities, their journeys or “road-to-finale” type of non-live content, is very popular in the sports genre. With movies too, innovations such as ‘The making of...’ are often spoken about.

It remains to be seen if tomorrow Hotstar manages to create a successful non-live property around the Indian Premier League or a Sony Liv can use the Kapil Sharma show’s popularity to create exclusive digital content around the TV show or they heavily rely on catch-up TV to garner views. For now, VOOT’s one billion, if they manage to reach it, will be quite an achievement...

Have news to share? Write to us