"The audiences will turn to us when looking for original content"

 Manu Kaushik   New Delhi     Last Updated: July 5, 2017  | 19:08 IST

The video-on-demand OTT market is about to take off. Even as the popular video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are reaching out to Indian audiences, their domestic competitors Hotstar and Voot have done reasonably well by streaming content suited to local tastes and preferences. Vuclip is one of the 30-odd players trying to create a market by producing some original content for the Indian audience. In a conversion with Business Today's Manu Kaushik, Vishal Maheshwari, India Country Manager for Vuclip shares the details of his OTT venture.

Amazon and Netflix have entered the video-on-demand OTT market in India recently. There are over 30 players in the market right now. Vuclip has been present in India for over 9 years. How do you differentiate in such a crowded market?

The OTT market is not one-size-fits-all in nature. There are broadcast players moving to OTT because their viewers are moving to digital, there are players riding the e-commerce wave, there are MCNs and there's Vuclip. We believe our recipe to succeed in the market would include freemium business model, regional and original content, local partnerships, local operations local pricing, deep technology and sustained long term investment to develop market. As time goes by, the market will go from a combination of congested and competitive to consolidated and competitive.

Netflix and Amazon have come with international content. Hotstar and Voot, on the other hand, have regional content. The players in the market are currently offering services across global and local content. What's your focus area when it comes to conten
t?

Some of our competition has adopted a cookie-cutter market strategy. The content they produce globally is what comes to India. Local players in the broadcast space have their libraries in place. Therefore, if one wants Hollywood content, one turns to Netflix. Sports fans gravitate towards Hotstar. But for locally relevant content, we are the destination. This is the reason our originals have accounted for 35 per cent of our views since launch.

Our focus is on content that is locally relevant, excites our audiences and is backed by close to a decade of insights. Thus, when looking for original content, we strongly believe that audiences will turn to us. We have roped in experts such as Vikram Bhatt and Annapurna Studios to create content for us. We are already working on greenlighting several other shows which will then go into production, and we should announce these over the next month or so.

What's your pricing strategy? Netflix and Amazon are paid services, and they are targeting the premium end of the market. What's your target audience and how do you monetise your content?

At a point of time when most market participants are trying to figure out the subscription game, we are focused on creating value for our viewers. We strongly believe that Indian audiences are ready to pay, but they want to see value before reaching for their wallets. We will continue to focus on the mass market with our freemium model and offer premium ad-free content for Rs 99. Once our users see value and start subscribing is when we know we have made it. In terms of monetising on the advertising front, our focus will be on non-obtrusive content which does not interrupt the viewing experience.

Do you have tie-ups with phone manufacturers to push the app usage. I believe that some video-on-demand OTT services have arrangements with handset makers to pre-load apps on handsets?

Of the top-10 players in the Indian market, Samsung, Micromax and Intex have partnered with us and every one of these brands' phones that is shipped and passed on to Indian consumers is bundled with Viu app. Our partnerships have always held us in good stead, and we believe they will have a strong role to play.

What's the profile of your users, in terms of age, spending capacity and geographies?

Our target is primarily viewers in the age group of 18 to 34. Nearly 76 per cent of our current viewership is male and the remaining female. By device, 96 per cent of our viewership comes from Android devices, and the remaining coming across iOS, desktop and the mobile site. Viu is available in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and throughout the Middle East.

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