Transmedia storytelling is in focus for us now:  Anshul Ailawadi, Viacom18

Aishwarrya Chakraverty
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Anshul Ailawadi Viacom18

In a conversation with Social Samosa, Anshul Ailawadi from Viacom18 sheds light on how the lines between television and digital content channels are blurring fast, leading to the channel taking a property-first approach.

Viacom18 recently launched Fully Faltoo as a platform for short videos and more along with Fully Faltoo NFTs. The network also launched KaanPhod - a digital label focused on creator economy and music. As Viacom18 enters "Transmedia Storytelling", we speak with Anshul Ailawadi, Head – Youth, Music, and English Entertainment to understand how the lines between television and digital content channels are blurring fast.

Ailawadi tells Social Samosa that Viacom18 will be taking a property-first approach - that is focussing on exposing their IPs on various platforms, as opposed to letting the platform define the content.

Here's more on what he had to say...

Edited Excerpts

Please take us through the top 3 initiatives, as part of Viacom18's Youth, Music, and English Entertainment cluster’s content strategy for 2022?

According to our research, the content needs of the youngsters have changed over the last 18+months, owing to the pandemic. They want to escape to a world that is better than what they currently live in. This gives birth to the underlying thought behind almost all our recent endeavours, leading to changes in the content strategy and approach. Therefore, you will see most of our content and formats pivoting in that direction while leveraging the trend of escapism which is standing out for us. We have three priorities at the moment from a business perspective:

  • To dial up our existing properties 10x - invest significantly in them, alter the formats to an extent while connecting them to more relevant things happening in 2022. The first one is Roadies to be launched in April.
  • The second approach is our digital pivot that includes Fully Faltu, Fully Faltu NFT, and KaanPhod This is our way of getting closer to the creator economy and empowering the short video and audio revolution
  • The third part is to experiment with new content that includes newer IPs like - 'Anything for Love' on MTV, new shows on Colors Infinity, amongst others.

Viacom18 has been actively investing in short-form content - what is the insight behind that? How do you plan to proceed?

There are two parts to how the short video format has come up for the network:

  • We have been a part of the creator economy for a long time now. A lot of creators that have been discovered on our platform have been discovered across platforms. Therefore, the team decided to bring the spotlight on these people and come up with something that is fun, quirky while bringing Fully Faltoo. As part of the platform, we intend to do 14-15 series' a year across platforms like YouTube, Facebook, VOOT, Jio, etc. with fun content.
  • The other part focuses on the insight that people are now used to a variety of narratives. Today, you can watch content that is of the duration of 6-8 minutes or even shorter than that. Leveraging snackable, short-format content for entertainment and more is also the insight behind the idea of the launch.

How are things on the NFT side of FullFaltoo?

FullyFaltoo is part of our legacy. The reason behind launching Fully Faltoo NFT was young Indians who are tech-savvy, amongst other factors. Over time, we realized that this phenomenon is going to be here in a big way. To achieve the objective of foraying into this, we engaged with partners like to launch 

We have a rich legacy and intend to let people have a chance home the legacy through this avenue. That is the idea.

As we move forward in the area, we are focusing on primarily two things that include - the innovation and format of the NFT and the other is how do you increase the utility value of the NFT.

The core target audience at this time will be 15-24-year-olds with Young Indian, M & F --urban and rural. Overall, we have a wider filter that significantly includes the brand loyalists who are a bit older in age.

Also read: What digital was ten years ago, e-commerce will be in the next five: Anisha Iyer, CEO, OMD India

You also launched an artist-first digital label, KaanPhod. How do you intend to drive business and traction through this arm of the cluster?

MTV was the OG platform for discovering new talents. As we moved forward into the creator economy, the team realized that we can co-own the idea of the music and co-monetize it along with the creator.

Hence, keeping this in mind, we decided to invest in the production of the song, production of the music video, and then market it and mount it by partnering with platforms and so on and so forth. That would be the idea behind KaanPhod.

As part of the first initiative from the division, we are partnering with 10 artists with 10 music videos with 25 songs, to be released in the coming months.

For sponsorships and investments - we have collaborated with brands like Unacademy, Philips, Livon, and more that are spread across categories. We have catered to a wide variety of brands across sectors and will continue to do so with changing briefs and changing times.

In addition to a bullish content plan, what kind of content distribution strategy do you have in place for the coming year?

Transmedia storytelling is in focus for us.

So, one of the priorities is to take the content IPs and expose them across platforms and drive traction+engagement on channels that include OTT as well as the social platforms. Overall, it is a property-focused approach.

While experts say that OTT& TV are an 'and' conversation and not an 'or' conversation, OTT still has grown exponentially in the last two years. How are you combatting this trend to add television to GenZ's roaster?

We transitioned to transmedia storytelling a while back. Our focus is to take the IPs to our consumers. We will make efforts to do this through TV, OTT, or social platforms. Roadies, Hustle, Splitsvilla are massive drivers for VOOT, which is our OTT arm and now with Fully Faltoo, we are dialling up our presence on social video, too.

Vernacular & regional have been leading the way for the last few years. How does this apply to Viacom18?

I think there is more to do on the regional front. That said, we have seen strong traction for our IPs across regional markets, too. To do this, we have adapted some of our IPs in some cases. However, this remains an area in which we need to do more.

With the increasing content consumption in foreign languages do you have any plans to introduce let's say Korean or Spanish content?

The team is constantly evaluating international content. Therefore, Korean and Spanish dramas are being evaluated. Further, we have also looked at Israeli shows. There is a lot to curate in this space.

What will be the way forward? 

On the aggregate level, things are robust and back on track for the network. We have over 10 Bn+ impressions on social + OTT platforms. Within each platform, changes are happening. The future looks better.

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