A year of consolidation
FY 2017-18 was in many ways a year of continued investment in growth areas while weconsolidated certain businesses. I am very proud to state that our channels now touch thelives of 700 million Indians.
We made a strategic investment to acquire 1% additional stake in the Viacom18 jointventure to increase our overall stakeholding to 51% thereby gaining operational control.The JV partners are aligned in the vision of superior growth at Viacom18 and believe thatthis will add value and bring synergies across the Group.
We continued to fill white spaces in the regional content space. We understand India'slinguistic and socio-cultural diversity and their appetite for consuming content in theirlocal language; and hence have identified regional vernacular content as a key for futuregrowth. In view of this we strengthened our regional footprint with the launch of ColorsTamil around the end of the year in February 2018.
Colors Tamil with its fresh subjects and cinematic quality content has generated strongappeal among viewers especially in the urban region. Within its first month of launchthe channel has made its presence felt in a highly competitive market garnering 5%viewership share. With this TV18 now has 7 regional entertainment and 14 regional newschannels. We will continue to explore more such opportunities to deliver cutting edgelocalised content to under-served audiences.
The year saw us undertake an important transition as we brought together all thegeneral news channels under one mega brand News18. This was announced at the highlyprestigious Rising India Summit amidst the presence of the Honourable Prime Minister ofIndia Shri Narendra Modi and other dignitaries. The event was the culmination of thestate-level Rising Series that we had initiated during the year to bring together all thestakeholders of the states and discuss a roadmap for development. The unification marksour journey towards becoming one of the largest news brands in the world.
Focussed on the digital opportunity
We believe that the digital arena will be a significant growth driver in the comingyears. As the world increasingly converges to smaller screens digital content consumptionis bound to rise. Already the online video consuming is witnessing a massive upsurge withviewer base growing by 64% to 250 million users in 2017. The increasing smartphonepenetration rising internet speeds and decreasing data charges will only intensify thisgrowth. By 2020 it is expected that the userbase will double to 500 million. And this willdrive monthly data consumption which is expected to increase over four-fold from 3.9 GBper smartphone in 2017 to 18 GB by 2023. (Source: FICCI-EY Media and Entertainment report2018)
With our platform-agnostic approach and technological competence we are wellpositioned to capitalise on this opportunity. We have leveraged this competence to build apowerful and scalable OTT platform VOOT which is garnering consumer admiration for itshuge curated content library and user experience. VOOT had beevn downloaded by ~70 millionusers and has 35 million active users spending an average of 40+ minutes daily. We willremain focussed on creating more digital-first content and promote fresh ideas to cater toevolving consumer preferences.
Content innovation remains vital
TV18 has always been a believer of encouraging creativity and embracing artisticindependence. It is this virtue that has enabled us to create path-defining content thathas been running successfully year after year and continues to attract more audiences.With our strong team of storytellers creative experts journalists anchors and actorswe will continue to launch innovative concepts and formats.
My colleagues and I appreciate the excellent work and commitment of our teams. Ourefforts to bring on-stage some of the world's most powerful people encourage thoughtleadership and spread positive social message only goes on to show our social and economicimportance to the nation.
I take this opportunity to thank all the other stakeholders for their sustained trustin us. We continue to seek their support to make TV18 much stronger than it is today.