Viacom18 has announced the launch of Voot Kids, an app that makes screen time more meaningful, with the promise to maintain a fair balance between entertainment and learning all together. Voot Kids is also Viacom18’s first subscription based digital business.
Medianews4u caught up with Saugato Bhowmik, Business Head, VOOT Kids for a brief chat on the launch of the subscription service.
How does Voot Kids adhere to “Making Screentime Meaningful Like Never Before? How has your journey been with Voot Kids?
It’s an unproven space and we decided to take the first plunge. After doing our own internal research, we built and tested Voot kids. We did a beta test and a soft launch, and we kept improving the product and then building out the entire go to market plans for it.
It’s been a great journey and an amazingly enriching journey for me personally. And like I said, I have a five year old daughter and every time I come to work, I think that whatever I will do should make her proud and should be good for her.
How different are the Voot Kids’ interactive e-books and audio books from other similar content across various video platforms?
On Video platforms e-books have something which is being read out and I don’t want to comment on what is happening elsewhere. Enhanced e-books like the ones on Voot Kids do not exist. Let’s talk about first the collection and curation. We have stories from Oxford University Press which is one of the most renowned publishing houses in the world. With some of the most classic fiction and folk tales, I mean Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin, Jungle Book and the list goes on. On top of that we have other international publishing houses, Indian publishers and Indian authors. The collection itself is really wide, much wider than what you could potentially buy on your own. One book maybe two or three books.
We have done a lot to enhance the reading experience of the book? Big attractive pictures, big text, audio narration with the text being highlighted, as the reading is going on, when one taps on the word; the dictionary pops up. One can’t find this anywhere and what we are trying to make books fun and mainstream while the learning is embedded.
And maybe the parents will also enjoy reading the stories. Often it’s nostalgia well for us adults to go and read Jack and the Beanstalk again, So what are we also doing is we’re also creating a safe environment where co-consumption can also happen where you will read the books you grew up with and then you will also find books you didn’t grow up such as the new age books.
Can we say that Voot Kids has got the first mover advantage?
No. Voot Kids is for the first time in the kids digital category is genuinely combining fun and learning in a safe, parental controlled environment. Voot Kids is being offered to parents at an extremely reasonable price, which they can easily afford, as against all the expenses that they’re incurring today buying those experience in bits and pieces from all across.
What were some of the insights you found out from the internal research that was conducted while conceptualizing and creating Voot Kids?
There were a lot of insights which we derived out of our research. A few of the highlights were, today parents are seeking for more than just curricular development for the children. When we were growing up I think the larger emphasis was only on studying. As the generations have progressed today parents want their kids to have a holistic development, emotional, social, mental, cognitive and to be a completely global citizen, one that is socially responsible, environmentally conscious and kind.
Kids these days are practically born with screens and you won’t take the screen away so doing something as impractical as that doesn’t make sense. It’s not okay to take the screen away because technology has a lot of benefits to the child. But the challenge was once again, how do we make this screen time more meaningful? So that it’s not junk time, It’s fun time and learning time, hence good time for the kids.
We found the gap. Parents were feeding back to us in different ways about how they were spending a lot of money in different places such as a DIY box or a puzzle box toys, art and craft, hobbies. I am not saying that since Voot Kids has come all these things will not be a part of a child’s time. Voot Kids are another ally to this process, but at a far more reasonable price. So that’s the kind of research they told us there is a larger problem to be solved just than entertainment and entertainment for us is in our DNA and we will continue to entertain our audiences.
For the first time anybody’s going well beyond entertainment and it is really exciting.
And what did you learn from Beta testing? Any changes or improvements made on the product after beta testing?
Yes, so we did three months of beta testing and three months of soft launch, so a total of six months of working on the product and improving it.
Some of the improvements that we incorporated after the test phase were the focus on mainly things such as the entire consumer journey, how to on-board a new consumer, our payment gateway became smoother, how to find more content became smoother, how to ensure that the videos and the playback time improves.
We made the app lighter brought on more content, found more ways to nudge the child towards other than video content, so those are things that we’ve been working upon in our test phase.
What is the sort of growth in numbers are you expecting from Voot Kids? On the platform?
See, I can’t again give you a percentage, but I can tell you this much. The growth we are expecting is very meaningful and very significant, if it was not, we as an organization wouldn’t be investing everything. Like all resources are being invested towards making this a grand success. We were successful with kids content on TV and we want to be extremely successful and kids, and serve the needs of kids in the digital space.
What’s the marketing force for Voot Kids?
The entire Viacom18 network is coming together to help us take this message to the market. That’s the biggest advantage I think that we have. We are one at the Viacom18 network, which is so large with so many channels; we have Voot our own parent that reaches 80 million plus monthly active users. One can’t really ask for more from a marketing vehicle perspective.