Most Paramount Plus content will be housed exclusively on Viacom18’s streamer Voot Select in India, alongside new programming from Showtime and other CBS content.
“As Paramount Plus rolls out globally, we’ll (need) to work a strategy there to sort of see what decisions we make for the India market,” Ferzad Palia, head, Voot Select and international business, Viacom18, told Variety. “Maybe in the next three to six months we’ll have more clarity on the Paramount Plus entry into India, if it’s a separate service or is it through Voot Select – those are discussions that are yet to happen.”
Keenly anticipated titles include the new season of “Why Women Kill,” the Frasier reboot, the latest Ray Donovan feature film and “The First Lady,” which will join existing programming like “Your Honor,” “Shark Tank” and “The Stand.” New episodes of shows will available at the same time as when they are streamed internationally.
It has been a year since Voot Select launched, and the service has drawn more than a million direct paying customers, and several more who access it via deals with telecom services. It is priced at INR499 ($6.85) annually. That will eventually increase to a yearly INR999 ($13.74), or INR99 ($1.36) monthly.
India is a market that thrives on local-language programming and Voot Select has bowed seven popular Hindi-language originals since launch including “Asur,” “The Raikar Case” and “The Gone Game.” There are 25 more due over the next year, with half of them in the Tamil and Bengali languages.
“Each of these are very well-developed and highly-crafted stories,” says Palia. “We’re not going the route (of) a rat race to put out the most number of titles in a month. We’d rather focus on telling good quality stories in the best possible way. So they will be properties which have scale and are well-told stories.”
Much of the content is also available in multiple Indian language versions including in Kannada, Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, Bengali and Gujarati.
Voot Select benefited from launching in a market that was soon under lockdown and saw a meteoric take-up of streaming subscriptions. Now, cinemas have been allowed 100% occupancy since February, and major theatrical releases are due from April.
“I think what’s happened is that the pandemic introduced a different kind of content on different kinds of platforms to people that may not have consumed them earlier,” says Palia. “They liked what they saw and spoke about it to many more people who also liked what they saw and they came and sampled it. So now we’re not seeing any slowdown in the current format with the country pretty much almost fully operational.”
Viacom18 is a joint venture of TV18, the media group controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, and U.S. media conglomerate Viacom.