IBC Innovation Awards winner VOOT on the successful delivery of multi-channeled OTT content to 300 million smartphones across India. 

Viacom18 is a joint venture in India between media giant Viacom and local service provider Network 18, running a multi-channel OTT network called VOOT.

Faced with the prospect of delivering content to the 300 million smartphones in India, across networks which are often crowded and at high data costs, it took a fresh approach, developing a progressive web service that delivered high performance without taking valuable memory space.

Within just a few days VOOT saw a 77% increase in conversion from visitor to video viewer and a 39% increase in session time per user. Google provided technology support.

Viacom18 Digital Ventures Head, Product and Technology Rajneel Kumar and Viacom18 Digital Ventures COO Gaurav Gandhi explain the collaboration and solution to run a multi-channel OTT network. 

What was the initial challenge faced by the end user: technical, creative or commercial?

Viacom 18 platform

Viacom18’s VOOT platform 

India is a largely Android, but fragmented device market - with a wide variety of handsets especially at the low price range (around or below US$100). These lower-end handsets, in addition to being a challenge for app developers to support, often have limited storage and can’t hold more than 4-5 apps (besides the OS & the google stack of apps), leading to very high uninstall rates. This is because users continue to rotate the apps basis use as they cannot store too many apps on their phones.

Data rates have been relatively high (even though they have come down lately, but yet much higher in context of the mobile ARPU) and people are wary of using too much data – seeking free wifi where possible to consume content (wifi availability too is not ubiquitous).

Additionally, patchy internet infrastructure (besides the 4G services), resulting in slow load times leads to users giving up on a video even before it can start. For app developers too, the high rate of uninstalls by users make the effective cost of acquisition per user very high whereas the customer lifetime values are low. The market is largely ad-supported and not subscription based at this point in time.

For VOOT, primarily being a video entertainment product, the technical challenge was how to creatively overcome these barriers and provide users with an app like an experience without the need of actually downloading the app.

How did you collaborate to find a solution? Talk us through the process and timeline

One way to ensure that storage and load time (therefore the content access experience) are not barriers to accessing video content is to replicate an app like experience on web browsers. Using this insight and a combination of collaboration and creativity, the VOOT team turned the mobile website into a Progressive Web App. We set up a taskforce to understand PWA in great detail and depth with the Google team, who was our partner. Google had helped a select set of large digital services with a PWA experience, but none on Video. So VOOT was the first video streaming service to do this.

Rajneel profile picture 2

Rajneel Kumar

We revamped the entire product offering on Mobile Web and hired a skilled design agency to help design a mobile rich experience. We trained the teams on implementing the PWA fundamentals and components which included updating the entire tech stack, optimizing our caching mechanism, leveraging capability of service worker and adding a home screen bookmark as a shortcut to access the website.

The entire project was scoped for months including the designs, development and quality assurance. Using best practices of Agile development and an iterative approach, we used 6 sprints to roll out PWA on our production servers.

What challenges did you face when collaborating with the technical partners in order to develop a solution?

No one we were aware of had attempted PWA in the video OTT space before and we had to be very careful and thorough about our understanding of PWA and what capabilities it brings to us. Identifying the correct implementation partner locally, both for designs and development, was an initial challenge. Multiple iterations to create designs for the product was needed since we required it to be both engaging as well as easy to use. Daily SCRUM Meetings were held to ensure that we kept identifying roadblocks and ways to mitigate them for a timely rollout. We also had to ensure that there was constant communication among all our partners to ensure that they were updated with all the latest developments.

What makes your project unique from your competitors?

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Gaurav Gandhi 

VOOT is one of the first video streaming service that launched with PWA capabilities. In this video business, both content and technology have an equal role in realising the potential of our Consumer Proposition. 

While content has been our domain expertise, we are learning fast on the technology side and there to push the envelope, we continuously work with partners from around the world. We wanted to ensure that people who watch our content have the best experience irrespective of the platform they use. A person watching a video on mobile web should still be able to enjoy the rich app like experience as someone who is watching it on the app. 

Within days of the PWA implementation, session time per user increased by 39%, daily average views by 2.2x and load time came down hugely. These metrics showed us very quickly that voot.com was now catching up to perform just like the native app. The users could now experience a rich app like experience of VOOT’s world class video streaming experience, without requiring the user to install anything.

 As a result of the project, what has the outcome been for the end user? What is the benefit for the viewer/consumer?

With the launch of PWA, we have seen a significant improvement in our mobile web metrics. Post the launch, we observed the following:

  • 77% increase in conversion from visitor to video viewer
  • 39% increase in session time per user
  • 19% reduction in bounce rate
  • 2.2x increase in daily average views
  • 71% data saving

These results speak for themselves and demonstrate that users have not only been able to get to the content they love faster but also are enjoying an enriched viewer experience.

Why is it important to participate in the IBC Innovation Awards?

The IBC Innovation Awards is a great forum to discover and recognise new innovations in the media technology. Since one important criteria in the IBC Awards is collaboration and cooperation between different partners, the Awards helps showcase successful examples of how different partners can come together to create cutting-edge technological and creative innovations.