STAR India is perhaps one of the first brands that had begun speaking of ‘My Time’ versus ‘Primetime’ and a digital future as early as 2005. Many efforts and investments were also made in that direction to be able to take advantage of a digital future. Not much, however, had materialised at that time.
Today, as technology has advanced and further comprehension of the digital media has come in place, STAR India has once again taken a big step towards a digital future. The company has stated that the way forward is about being available wherever the viewer is, whenever she/ he wants to tune in and however the viewer can access content at the time. Company officials explained that this was yet another step in the direction of its thought process of ‘Rishta Wahi, Soch Nayi’.
Speaking to exchange4media on how the initiative is different this time, Sanjay Gupta, COO, STAR India, said, “The approach we have taken to digital itself is different this time. For starters, it is no longer a digital team sitting in a separate corner of the office, but the content head of the channel is in charge of what you will hear of Star Plus on voice or how it would be seen on the different screens. Crunching a 20-25 minute show into a 3-minute capsule, without losing its essence, is not a simple task and it needs someone who understands the show to handle it, so this is the content team’s baby now.”
The company has planned a phase-wise release of services and applications, which commenced on February 24, 2011. The first off the block is ‘Star Plus on Voice’, where the channel has connected with all operators, except Airtel, which is said to be underway too. The viewer can call in and listen to a show in a three-minute episode sum-up capsule that the viewer may have missed. The channel has also added an additional feature of personal blogs and diaries of key characters of the channel and a contest on the service is also on.
Also launched on the day were a Star Plus WAP site and an iPad website.
Gupta added, “We have not just taken our content and put it out there; we have actually gone to consumers, understood from them what they want and have created that kind of content. For instance, I personally think that the personal diaries of the characters would be a huge success. The telecom industry is driven by voice in India right now and our content takes advantage of that.”
Of applications, streaming and Wow effect
The initiative has kept Lalit Bhagia, Vice President, Digital, STAR India, busy for the last five to six months. While taking exchange4media through the whole gambit of offers that STAR has put out on the table, Bhagia said, “The timing, with 3G rolling out and 4G expected, is perfect. This is not just extending the Star Plus experience for the viewer, but making the experience more personal.”
At present, the voice service is charged very nominally. Bhagia gave the rationale on this and said, “We wanted a price point that would attract the viewer too. And all our telecom partners are also very excited about this and they are pushing this as well.”
The services will also see promotion across the STAR Network, including its other digital properties such as the flagship site, startv.in.
By March 2011, Star Plus would have also launched an application for iPad and Android-enabled devices. Factoring in Star’s international presence, Bhagia’s team has also worked out the channel’s presence on Google TV, Playstations and the likes.
Sanjay Gupta summed up, “Star Plus is a brand for Indians across the world and not just in India. There is a huge opportunity for us and whoever makes the right investments now will benefit in the way forward.”