Anirban Roy Choudhury
Media

Viacom18 bets big on 'Bigg Boss OTT'; "A tipping point in VOOT's trajectory": Gourav Rakshit

For the paid subscribers, the show will be available round the clock for six weeks. For the ones on AVOD, packaged episodes will be available to stream.

Digital video on demand (VOD) is one of the most talked about media businesses in India. Though it is still in its early stages, video streaming business has a bright future ahead is what reports suggest. It is all about finding the 'tipping point' right now. Ekta Kapoor of Balaji Telefilms had once said that it will take one show, or a couple of shows, and that would be the 'tipping point'.

Some OTT platforms are trying to find the 'tipping point' through 'Originals', while others are riding on sports and catch-up television content. VOOT, Viacom18's VOD platform, recently announced that it will stream an exclusive series of 'Bigg Boss' on OTT.

'Bigg Boss' (Hindi), Indian version of Endemol's 'Big Brother', is one of the most expensive TV propositions today. Gourav Rakshit, COO, Viacom18 Digital, says they are retaining the scale and, therefore, investing same, if not more, in producing the digital version of the show ('Bigg Boss OTT').

For the paid subscribers, the show will be available round the clock. For the ones on AVOD, packaged episodes will be available to stream. This is a digital-only version of 'Bigg Boss', and it won't appear on TV. However, winner(s) of the OTT version will be rewarded with a slot in the Bigg Boss on television, one that Salman Khan hosts.

"Digital is too expensive a business to acquire customers and lose by underserving them"
Gourav Rakshit

While 'Bigg Boss' is a Colors TV property and rakes in top dollars for the general entertainment channel (GEC), VOOT too rides on the popularity of the show and gets more than a billion views. In the past, Dabur Red Gel has associated itself as the title sponsor of 'Bigg Boss' digital opting out of the TV version, while Emami Fair and Handsome Laser 12, Timex Watches, Goibibo and McDowell’s No. 1 were the other digital-only sponsors.

Rakshit believes it is the content and experience that converts a viewer into a paid subscriber, and properties like 'Bigg Boss', with exclusive content for the paid subscribers, will help in the conversion. There is content in the pipeline that will follow 'Bigg Boss' and ensure retention, he adds. "Digital is too expensive a business to acquire customers and lose by underserving them."  

Gourav Rakshit
Gourav Rakshit

VOOT will also live stream Spanish top division football LaLiga matches and Rakshit backs a wide mix to grow engagement and monetisation. "'Bigg Boss' offers much more avenues for monetization, than an Original, as it is an established and loved property." 

He feels that it will be 50:50 mix, when it comes to revenue from AVOD and SVOD. "This is not an extension of the property unfolding on television, but an exclusive one available only on digital. I think it will be a good opportunity for us to acquire new subscribers and 'Bigg Boss' is a bulwark for advertising. I already see good interest in the market from the advertisers," Rakshit adds. 

Though the investment is significant, Rakshit says it is an economically viable proposition, primarily because of the monetisation opportunities it provides. "It need not be one of those market building or loss-leading investments." 

Starting with 'Bigg Boss OTT', VOOT intends to roll out a set of 'marquee' properties to rake in subscribers and grow the time spent on the platform. "I see this as a tipping point in VOOT's trajectory, where we are putting our best foot forward with 'Bigg Boss'," Rakshit concludes.