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NDTV Convergence Launches Tubaah.com; Challenges


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(By Preethi J & Nikhil Pahwa)

tubaahNDTV Convergence, the digital arm of TV news channel NDTV has launched an online video site called Tubaah. Tubaah is modeled on the lines of Hulu – a television-oriented online video site by NBC Universal and News Corp. Interestingly, NBC Universal owns 26% in NDTV Networks, of which NDTV Convergence is a subsidiary. This model is different from YouTube as it does not allow users to upload their own content and only streams their own content.

At present, the site claims to house some 50,000 videos sourced from six NDTV channels, including NDTV 24X7, NDTV India, Metro Nation and NDTV Good Times. The company will soon upload older episodes from NDTV’s archives. Tubaah just appears to be a camouflaged version of NDTV’s Video Zone, a video section on NDTV.com. Video Zone offers the same selection of shows from the NDTV stables. It also offers a video widget  that can be downloaded onto the desktop to watch LiveTV on a small screen. Will Tubaah too come out with a similar widget? Tubaah’s LiveTV category only features NDTV India and 24×7. 

NDTV has said that Tubaah users could build a collection of their favourite NDTV shows. We think that is a tad vain and will wait to see which other prime TV shows leap on the Tubaah bandwagon. Users can rate, comment and embed the videos on their sites/blogs.

Monetization

Videos are under categories such as business, news, lifestyle, zany, fashion, sports, spiritual and travel. This will allow NDTV to get category specific advertisers. For example, see this video in the business section – it has an 8 second Air France ad before the video begins. There are banner ads on the site as well.

Challenges

NDTV will face two main challenges – firstly, Tubaah can’t be an NDTV-only website. It needs to beyond the group, and aggregate quality videos from other content owners. In that context, they’ll compete with the likes of BigFlix.com and Rajshri.com, not to mention YouTube, which also has professional content. If limited to NDTV videos only, we doubt that Tubaah will flourish.

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Secondly, NDTV will be hard pressed to drive repeat usage because news becomes stale fairly quickly; repeat usage of the site will be determined by the freshness of the news content. So the company will have to spend money on putting out fresh and updated news content spliced from their live news channels, and hence will need an editing team. While professional content is easier to sell to advertisers than user generated content, is it worth it?

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The online video industry is still led by YouTube which recorded around 5.9 billion views in December 2008. Comparatively, Hulu had just 241 million views. Fox Interactive Media came in at second position with 445 million views, according to a report on TechSpot.

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