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A quick look at VOOT’s new non-fic­tion show.

The Brand Reporter - - EDITORIAL - By Anir­ban Roy Choudhury anir­ban.choudhury@afaqs.com

A look at Voot’s new non-fic­tion show which em­beds dig­i­tal into the for­mat.

Let’s Google it” is the best an­swer to any ques­tion asked to­day. How to tie a knot, how to this and how to that... are the most com­mon Google searches these days. Web se­ries sen­sa­tion, Sumeet Vyas, does the same in VOOT’s new show, ‘Stupid Man Smart Phone’.

In the show, Vyas is as­signed to scale treach­er­ous moun­tain passes, tra­verse river rapids, bat­tle wildlife in the for­est, and beat the gru­elling desert sun. The jour­ney is di­vided into three ter­rains and in each he will have a com­pan­ion. When­ever and wher­ever the duo get stuck, they can reach out to their smart­phone, search, find a so­lu­tion, and move on.

‘Stupid Man Smart Phone’ is a Bri­tish drama which Vi­a­com18’s video-on-de­mand stream­ing ser­vice, VOOT, has adapted and recre­ated for In­dian au­di­ences. Pro­duced by BBC World­wide In­dia, the nine episode se­ries stars Eve­lyn Sharma, Sahil Khat­tar and Karan Kun­dra as Vyas’ com­pan­ions. Three of the nine episodes are cur­rently stream­ing on VOOT.

In­dia is ac­cus­tomed to watch­ing in­ter­na­tional for­mats on tele­vi­sion, es­pe­cially those that gar­ner good rat­ings — ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’, ‘Bigg Boss’, ‘In­dian Idol’ — all of which are non-fic­tion adap­ta­tions of in­ter­na­tional for­mats. But what drives the dig­i­tal plat­form’s at­ten­tion to­wards it?

“Fun­da­men­tally, the dig­i­tal stream­ing world is now be­com­ing fairly main­stream. In this world we have seen qual­ity scripted con­tent be­ing pro­duced so far and in the last year, be it our shows or In­side Edge, the qual­ity is get­ting bet­ter. In the same stream­ing world no one re­ally did a non-scripted re­al­ity show, whereas ‘Bigg Boss’, ‘Kha­tron Ke Khi­ladi’ and ‘Road­ies’ does very well. So we thought, why not cre­ate a re­al­ity show for the dig­i­tal plat­form and set a new bench­mark,” says Gau­rav Gandhi, COO, Vi­a­com18 Dig­i­tal Ven­tures.

“This for­mat won at MIP last year and we were very keen on pick­ing it up. In­stead of bring­ing a mu­sic show or any other for­mats and do­ing it on dig­i­tal, we de­cided on this one be­cause in this show, dig­i­tal is or­gan­i­cally em­bed­ded into the for­mat it­self,” adds Monika Shergill, con­tent head, VOOT.

On the Bri­tish show, co­me­dian Rus­sell Kane plays the an­chor and the show is heav­ily de­pen­dent on its cast. Vyas’ funny bone sense of hu­mour made him the Stupid Man in the adap­ta­tion, “The flavour of the show is ad­ven­ture with com­edy; it’s a light­hearted re­al­ity se­ries where sur­vival is the chal­lenge. The brief was that we need to have peo­ple whom you won’t imag­ine in such places. Vyas is not a reg­u­lar stand-up guy, he doesn’t need a script, his nat­u­ral re­ac­tion has com­edy in it and that’s what we wanted,” in­forms Shergill.

So­cial me­dia pop­u­lar­ity was also a cri­te­ria, says Gandhi, adding, “We wanted peo­ple with huge so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing be­cause even when the show was be­ing filmed, they were con­stantly in­ter­act­ing with their fans and the fans were guid­ing them; that’s the for­mat of the show.”

The show has roped in Voda­fone as ‘ti­tle spon­sor’ and Mo­torola as ‘pow­ered by’. In the show, Sumeet Vyas and his com­pan­ion use Mo­toG smart­phones pow­ered with Voda­fone’s net­work. “They were a nat­u­ral fit for this for­mat. When you’re do­ing a show like this you can’t stuff in more brands; the dig­i­tal au­di­ence is very dis­cern­ing, if you push a brand they will re­ject the show,” opines Gandhi.

While con­tent has im­proved a lot in the last year and a half - has the im­prove­ment helped AVOD plat­forms get more money from ad­ver­tis­ers? “Ad­ver­tis­ing will get bet­ter with time. Next year when BARC starts mea­sur­ing stream­ing ser­vices, dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing will take a dif­fer­ent turn al­to­gether,” feels Gandhi.

“This as­so­ci­a­tion is one of the top se­lec­tions from our Con­tent Day last year,” in­forms Sid­dharth Ban­er­jee, EVP mar­ket­ing, Voda­fone. The telco was ex­cited about the cen­tral premise and sto­ry­line; the brand found the script to be a nat­u­ral fit to pro­mote Voda­fone Su­perNet as a data-strong net­work.

When it comes to web-se­ries in­te­gra­tion, Ban­er­jee and his team at Voda­fone like to get in on all the dis­cus­sions, “...right from the con­cept stage.”

Voda­fone has its own Key Per­for­mance In­di­ca­tors (KPIs) through which it will cal­cu­late the re­turn on this in­vest­ment, “While some of the in­put KPIs will be views et al, the core met­rics will be on mind mea­sures and whether it helps our busi­ness out­comes,” says Ban­er­jee.

The pro­duc­tion qual­ity is a key fac­tor and the ter­rains were not only chal­leng­ing for the cast but the crew as well, en­sur­ing pro­duc­tion teams had to deal with many dif­fi­cul­ties while film­ing. “In Tamil Nadu we had heavy rain­fall to deal with; in Ra­jasthan we had to deal with dis­tance as lo­ca­tions are far apart; in Arunachal Pradesh the roads are so steep that just get­ting around from one place to an­other was the big­gest chal­lenge,” rec­ol­lects Soniya Kulkarni, head, cre­ative and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, BBC World­wide In­dia. ■

“In­stead of bring­ing a mu­sic show or any other for­mats and do­ing it on dig­i­tal, we de­cided on this one be­cause in this show, dig­i­tal is or­gan­i­cally em­bed­ded into the for­mat it­self.”

MONIKA SHERGILL

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