VodafoneIdea, Underdog Rising?
India's Third Largest Telco Plays Catchup & The FAST Opportunity
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The Vi Movies & TV Platform
FAST Giant in the works? Genres, Languages & Content Partners’ breakdown
My Views - How can Vi succeed given the seemingly david v/s Goliath battle?
The Vi Movies & TV Streaming Platform
In addition to this newsletter, we have an extensive report for each of the Top 30 OTT platforms in India - it’s available for download here! Also, this report will be continuously updated with newer versions as new players come in, market evolves and so on.
VodafoneIdea Movies and TV, a direct to consumer streaming entertainment, sports and music offering of India’s third largest telco VodafoneIdea (Vi; also only available to VodafoneIdea subscribers plus owned by the Government of India, Aditya Birla Group and Vodafone) is the underdog in the race for eyeballs and data usage against Reliance Jio and their flagship destination JioCinema!
This newsletter is our attempt to not only unpack Vi’s current content strategies but also to look at growth opportunities for them as they are entrenched in a seemingly david v/s Goliath battle.
VodafoneIdea is an Indian mobile network operator with its headquarters based in Mumbai and Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. As of July 2023, Vi had a subscriber base of 228 million, making it the third largest mobile telecommunications network in India and 11th largest globally. 'Vodafone Idea Limited' was created on 31 August 2018 by the merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.
Vi continues to lose subscribers to Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel - Vodafone Idea’s subscriber loss persisted in July, with the third-ranked telco losing another 1.3 million subscribers. As per the July 2023 subscriber data collated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Jio’s mobile user base has swollen to 442 million, Bharti Airtel at 375 million and Vi is at 228 million.
VodafoneIdea’s Movies and TV app (Web, iOS, Android for now; Connected Television launch coming up) brings Vi subscribers a large repository of content from the best apps and content partners like Shemaroo Me, Hungama, Discovery, Yupp TV and more!
50,000+ hours of content which includes 350+ Live TV channels, 8500+ latest Bollywood and Hollywood Movies, Top rated TV Shows & Original Web series spread across 13+ languages.
As a Vi subscriber, the Vi app is an all in one mobile app to not only pay your bills & manage subscription plans, but also to access a world of entertainment - Vi MTV (Movies & TV), Music, Games, Caller tunes and more.
On clicking the Vi MTV icon, the Movies & TV UI is launched.
The “crown” icon on the bottom left takes you to the premium section where you can rent premium Hollywood movie titles for Rs. 120 - 140 ($1.5 - $1.7) for an unlimited watch over 48 hours. The user can add that amount to his / her postpaid mobile bill which is convenient.
On the Vi Movies & TV Home screen, the main focus area has “featured” content cards which toggle on clicking the screen and this space is monetized by a native ad format - I opened the app from Dubai and even though content playback is geo-blocked, at least it showed me a “Carrefour” display advertisement!
At the bottom of the home page as we scroll below the fold, another standard ad format appears - this time the advertiser is the Indian electronics brand, bOAT.
The Music section (you can toggle between Videos & Music) via the partnership with Hungama sets this streaming destination apart from competitors - Hungama is the largest aggregator, developer, publisher and distributor of Bollywood & South Asian entertainment content in the world, having worldwide exclusive rights to over half a million music and video titles. Podcasts and Music videos are also available.
FAST Giant in the works?
Vi Movies & TV app has 109 Live OR FAST (Free Ad Supported Streaming TV) channels available on the platform. These are labeled as “Top Live Channels”, however for all practical purposes and from a global definition point of view for streaming, we will assume that they are part of the FAST universe.
Under “Top Live Channels” you get a thumbnail driven view of each channel. The channel detail page pops open the video player and other recommended channels “similar” to the one thats playing with a ad banner thrown in for monetization.
The EPG (Electronic Program Guide) showcase is per channel versus an expanded view across channels on a single screen. That is the big opportunity to drive further adoption and ease of accessibility for the user. Example:
YuppTV, Shemaroo, NexGTV, MultiTV & Discovery channels are the content partners of choice for Vi Movies & TV FAST channels - interesting to check if their content strategy focused on “Entertainment” and “Devotional” content by intent OR by the fact that some of these partners had more of those genres! Either ways, it offers Vi users a unique proposition of content choice.
11 Indian languages + English make it to the FAST channel language popularity list on the Vi Movies & TV app. These include Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Marathi, Kashmiri, Kannada, and Punjabi.
Doordarshan Kashmiri (The Indian state broadcaster’s regional channel; powered by MultiTV) and Lakshya TV in Gujarati (powered by NexGTV) are the sole representatives in their respective language categories.
The 5 primary content partners for FAST channels at Vi Movies & TV represent a variety of genres of content and bring to the table unique strengths for an interesting split of content. From the India origin stable, YuppTV and Shemaroo make up 44% of the third party content partners with a majority of the content being “devotional” and “infotainment”.
Majority of the FAST channels have pre-roll ads on playback of each channel, however they are missing mid-roll ads, with a significant opportunity to monetize these ad breaks via server side ad insertion.
VodafoneIdea has to innovate and build significantly stronger content breadth to effectively challenge Reliance Jio and Airtel.
In the absence of live sports which is a duopoly (monopoly if the Star India & Viacom18 deal were to go through) in India, the other areas of content genres where VodafoneIdea seems to have doubled down to create an interesting niche for itself are Music (via it’s partnership with Hungama), Devotional & Infotainment content (Shemaroo & YuppTV combined).
There is upside to evaluate the following options to expand catalog, revenues, and increase user stickiness on Vi Movies & TV:
Create a FAST channel front porch with a cross channel EPG (similar to cable television’s menu guide which showcases channels and upcoming content and also referenced earlier on this newsletter). Analytics will play an important role in advising the Vi teams on the genre, language and type of content that is working in this category, however Starz ON’s AVOD and FAST launch in UAE offers inspiration.
Live Streaming of hyperlocal sports - a potential partnership with a company like SportVOT which beams exclusive events such as State level / private leagues across cricket, kabaddi, basketball, volleyball, badminton, tennis etc will help Vi attract users from local communities, towns and smaller cities. This is an easier and much more cost effective way for Vi to use live sports for customer acquisition and retention.
Introduce mid roll advertisements and server side insertion on their FAST channels and live content - Vi’s knowledge of their user as a telco offers an opportunity to create user personas, including but not limited to device types, demographics, location, income etc. This is a game changer for Vi to target ads for superior CPMs. However an extensive AVOD strategy will succeed depending on the watch time of the content on the platform.
CTV strategy for a superior video viewing experience for Vi subscribers - AVOD rates on CTV offer a 3X premium as compared with mobile devices. TVOD, SVOD and freemium pricing strategies can be explored for further slicing and dicing of the streaming revenue value chain. For example, a freemium pricing plan offering a FAST front porch to acquire users plus a subscription offering for premium content & transaction video on demand for latest releases for example can solidify revenues and device breadth with CTVs.
An OTT aggregation strategy similar to Jio’s Set Top Box and JioFiber go to market in India where they offer access to 14 OTTs for a single subscription upgrade per month is another effective way to expand subscribers and revenues for Vi. Given the significant OTT aggregation at play in India with others like OTTPlay, Airtel, Jio etc offering access to a majority of the streaming market, Vi will have to pick their partners carefully, however this CAN be done.
That’s all for today folks. If you enjoyed this breakdown, please share it with your friends and colleagues!
All roads lead to the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai where India face off against New Zealand this Wednesday, 15th November at 2pm IST / 12:30pm GST and streaming live on Disney+ Hotstar (50 million concurrents?!) (India) and Starzplay (UAE)!
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