Indian broadcaster Viacom18 plans to convert its flagship channels Colors, Rishtey, MTV and News18 to HD in the MEA region. Colors is expected to be the first of the channels to go HD in the next six to 12 months. These channels are already HD in India. “We’re in discussions with platforms in terms of how they’ll carry it, and we’re also in discussions about how you make the feeds available,” said Sachin Gokhale, media and entertainment business head, MEA and Asia Pacific, Viacom18.
The company is also making its channels available on Yupp TV, a South Asian-focused SVOD OTT platform. In addition, Viacom18 has its own AVOD platform called Voot which it launched in India about a year ago. This platform has about 35,000 hours of content and has performed “extremely well” according to Gokhale. “It has about 25 million subscribers, so we are planning to launch Voot here in the region but as a pay service. It will have library of content across our portfolio – that’s the first pillar.”
The second pillar, Gokhale explains, will be content that is created for the platform and is not aired on the linear channels. As Gokhale explains, there is a huge amount of content produced by Viacom18 in India which does not get used, such as Celebrity Big Brother footage that never sees the light of day. “Celebrity Big Brother is shot over three months with 90 cameras 24 hours a day. Only a small fraction of it makes it to broadcast because we only do one episode a day on Colors. There is so much content which we create but which viewers don’t currently get to see,” he says.
The company also airs kids’ content, in about 8-9 different languages, on Voot. This is especially important as younger viewers are growing up with the expectation that they can view content when and where they want. “We need to realise people not viewing TV same way they were a few years ago,” he adds.
Viacom18 distributes 21 channels across about 26 countries in the MEA region.