Viacom18 has announced a management restructuring aimed to consolidate its growing portfolio play as it prepares to further enhance performance through focused content innovation and collaboration across brands. Manisha Sharma, who has been the force behind the continued success of Colors, has now been elevated to Chief Content Officer, Hindi Mass Entertainment. In her new role, she will be heading content for the entire Hindi mass entertainment (HME) cluster including Colors and Rishtey. Sharma will now report directly to Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO and Managing Director Designate, Viacom18.
In a first for the organisation, Viacom18 has unified all revenue across the network under the leadership of Raj Nayak, Chief Operating Officer. After establishing the Kids’ cluster of Viacom18 as the country’s foremost one in the genre, Nina Elavia Jaipuria’s role has been expanded to Head, Hindi and Kids TV Network. Her mandate now includes channels across kids and HME clusters.
Ravish Kumar as Head, Regional TV Network, will be leading the network’s aggressive foray into regional broadcast entertainment across languages and genres. Ferzad Palia will continue leading the network’s efforts in strengthening Viacom18’s command on youth, music and English entertainment while creating content and experiences for Viacom18’s universe of the young. Ajit Andhare, will now take on the expanded role of Chief Operating Officer, Viacom18 Studios, as he drives Viacom18 Motion Pictures’ forays into national and regional cinema and builds Tipping Point as a brand for digital content production.
Saugato Bhowmik will continue to lead Integrated Network Solutions, building homegrown IPs in experiential entertainment and driving the licensing business under Viacom18 Consumer Products. All the above will report into Vats. “The first decade of Viacom18 marked the hyper-growth phase for us with ~50X growth in topline. In order to make Viacom18 future-ready and dial up growth across different lines of business, it is imperative to drive synergies, leverage scale and build content capabilities across screens. As we step into our next phase, it is important that we shape an organisational structure that allows us to retain the garage-nimbleness that got us here while enabling Viacom18’s independent business lines to leverage the synergies that consolidation brings. Integrating our revenues and building content engines to cater to multiple screens across India, under the above leaders, is an important step towards a forward-looking organisation,” explained Vats.
Global Plans for VOOT
OTT Platform VOOT by Viacom18 announced last evening that it will be taking it to global markets. By the end of this year it will be launched in UK. In UK their plan is to first launch it through a telco partnership and later on will also be available on the AppStore and Play Store. The broadcaster said VOOT will be available under paywall in markets such as the UK.
Viacom18 also showcased the first bundle of its upcoming VOOT Originals – 18 multi-lingual premium web series cutting across genres. In its bid to utilize the strength of storytelling that runs across Viacom18’s various businesses, VOOT has created and collaborated with various brands of the network to create bespoke content. Leveraging its prowess of creating critically and commercially successful films, Viacom18 Motion Pictures, the network’s movie studio, will now be producing web-series for VOOT, under the banner of Tipping Point Films. Furthermore, diving deeper into the regional markets of India, the Regional Broadcast Entertainment cluster of Viacom18 will be producing multi-lingual VOOT Originals specifically for the discerning digital audience. VOOT will also be adding news to its increasingly varied content offering, starting with a partnership with India’s foremost news media organization Network18. VOOT is ramping up its content and product play as it sets sight to take the platform international, beginning with the United Kingdom, in November 2018.
“VOOT is integral to our strategy as we gear up for a future-ready Viacom18 that is screen, platform and pipe agnostic. We are building a digital-first brand to harness Viacom18’s strengths across its brands, creative franchises and businesses in multiple Indian languages.” Explained Sudhanshu Vats, Managing Director, Viacom18, adding, “Furthermore, the inherent synergies with Reliance Jio, both as a platform for showcasing content and as a carrier of our service, have only dialled up the business roadmap for VOOT.”
Partnering with the best in class creators, producers and talent, the 18 VOOT Originals will provide an immersive content experience with storytelling across multiple genres like Psychology, Mystery, Sports Biopic, Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Politics, History, Crime and Suspense amongst others. The diversity of the VOOT Originals slate will be brought to life through driving synergies within the network.
“The digital medium brings us close to the consumer at a very personal level. Owing to the last mile measureablity that the medium provides, our entire content strategy is based on a deep data backed analysis of the needs and desires of our consumers and their consumption preferences and patterns. Thus our play across a diverse bouquet of genres and languages,” Monika Shergill, Head – Content, Viacom18 Digital Ventures, explained, adding, “At an execution level, we have been extremely lucky to be partnering with a galaxy of very talented and committed actors, writers and directors to bring forth our second bundle of VOOT Originals, starting with 18 multi-genre and multi-lingual series.”
Expanding its genre spread, VOOT will now see the addition of news on its platform with the inclusion of TV18 news. 16 live channels across 13 languages will now bring the latest in current affairs to its viewers, adding to the range and reach of the platform. VOOT will also strengthen its engagement and user interactivity experience with superior technology adoption and innovation. Adding to the user search experience and facilitating easy discoverability will be the adoption of Google Watch Action, an industry first in APAC for premium OTT players. VOOT’s future ready platform will also enhance the content experience with the introduction of Dolby Surround Sound for all VOOT Originals, a first amongst Indian OTT Players.
New television channel
Movie, television and digital content conglomerate Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd announced the launch of a new television channel in the Kannada market. Titled Colors Kannada Cinema, the launch completes the company’s portfolio in the Karnataka market where it already operates two TV channels—Colors Kannada and Colors Super. “Movies, music, TV content, it’s all one connected ecosystem,” said Ravish Kumar, head of regional entertainment, Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd. “We had a library of movies already and we had reached a point where we weren’t leveraging them. Movies have a very distinct viewership so it all just came together beautifully.”
Parameshwar Gundkal, business head – Colors Kannada and Colors Super, added that the two older channels, with their focus on fiction and non-fiction content respectively, had carved a niche among urban, mature audiences. With Colors Kannada Cinema, the idea was to appeal to family audiences with Viacom18’s existing library of 460 plus titles which span genres like action, comedy and romance. In themselves, movies contribute about 11% of the total viewership on general entertainment channels.
“The Kannada market has been great for us,” Kumar said referring to the company’s journey since its takeover of ETV Kannada in 2015 and rebranding it as Colors Kannada. Along with fiction shows like Lakshmi Baramma and Shani, the channel is known for non-fiction shows like Bigg Boss Kannada and Dancing Star, the Kannada version of Jhalak Dikhla Jaa. To be sure, the Kannada TV market itself is also recording significant growth. According to the media and entertainment industry report brought out by global auditing firm KPMG, Kannada TV channels recorded a 3% increase in advertising expenditure in FY2018 and 63% change in viewership in 2017 versus 2016. “Like most regional markets, Kannada is expanding very positively both in terms of the ideas we get to see as well as the scale of those ideas, and that holds true for not just TV but movies and music as well,” Kumar said. “We’re starting to see markets coming into their own, variety and experimentation in content and that content really working.” To be sure, the Kannada movie channel launch makes much sense for Viacom18.