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Subscriptions, ad-sales to power TIL’s BoxTV service

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Subscriptions, ad-sales to power TIL’s BoxTV service

Times Internet Ltd (TIL) officially launched its video service, BoxTV on September 11, 2012. The content bouquet includes blockbuster movies, TV shows, short films, etc., which users will be able to watch on a regular web browser or via iPhone, iPad, other Android devices and popular TV-connected platforms such as Roku.

BoxTV has a ‘freemium model’, which means that a part of the content will be available on an ad-supported free-to-user basis, and the rest will be available on a monthly subscription basis.

In interaction with exchange4media, Satyan Gajwani, CEO, Times Internet said that that content is being sourced from a variety of studios and content aggregators who have digital rights. Given the special focus on Hollywood content, TIL has announced its partnership with Sony Pictures, USA. “We have also licensed content from many independent Hollywood studios. We are in discussions with more major studios and will be ready to announce more partnerships in the coming weeks,” he added.

Straddling the market
With global players such as Hulu and Netflix, that offer similar services, actively eyeing an India foray, it becomes important for BoxTV to maintain its competitive advantage. Gajwani is confident of the company’s understanding of the Indian market, due to past video initiatives such as the Indian Premier League (IPL), to give BoxTV that extra edge. He stressed, “We have built the site with a lot of optimisation to Indian bandwidths. We also have a lot of deep partnerships with Indian content owners as well as Hollywood content owners, making a unique mix of content that is unparalleled. Also, we have a first-mover advantage with our launch today.”

However, it may be noted here that iStream, a Bangalore-based startup, also showcases premium video content across news, TV and movie categories online for the Indian audience worldwide. Gajwani insisted that BoxTV is completely different, “with focus on entertainment content and pure long-form content”. Also, the genres and content focus are completely different, he maintained.

One major concern while streaming content online has been poor bandwidth. To address this issue, the BoxTV player has an auto-bandwidth optimiser for working well on low or inconsistent bandwidths for optimal viewing, particularly while a user is on the move. The BoxTV player has been designed and built from scratch and offers a ‘lean back’ experience with three different modes – normal, wide and full screen – for viewing content.

The revenue aspect
BoxTV has two revenue streams – subscriptions and ad-sales. “We’ll focus on both areas – on subscriptions, it is doing something that has never been done successfully in India before. With ad-sales, we’re focused on selling ads at a super-premium, given the premium nature of content and the service. This means that both are new areas of focus and we have a lot of ideas on how to get there. We’ll have to wait and see how the service takes off in the initial months before we make any solid commitments on our future projections,” Gajwani said.

As far as promotions are concerned, TIL is keen to show the product to early users, get their feedback and continuously improve the product. “We already have 50,000 invite requests, with nearly 10,000 of them coming through word-of-mouth since our August last week preview launch,” he informed.

The investment has been relatively low, given the previous assets built for IPL and other video initiatives. A bulk of the investments is towards acquiring content and creating a large-scale environment. TIL has also invested in niche areas such as creating rich metadata and linking for better discovery and search experience.

The initial priority is to get a strong and sustained user-base for a product that is doing many firsts in the industry – first to offer international content, first to bet on a freemium model, first to offer large scale premium video across multiple devices, etc., Gajwani concluded.

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