Times Internet* (Indiatimes) has launched BoxTV, a video content destination modeled on Hulu and Netflix (US based video streaming services), which focuses on premium content, offering TV and movie video streams across devices, including on web browsers, iPhone and iPad, Android tablets and phones, and Windows 8 devices. A Roku app is also being launched keeping in mind the popularity of the device in overseas markets.
Presently, the site is in an invite-only mode, and users can request for access by dropping in their email ids or by signing-in via their Facebook account. The company claims that it has received about 10,000 requests since the last five days of making the site public, and 50,000 requests over the last six months.
Content: At the time of its launch, BoxTV will offer 3,500 full length movies, 500+ short films and 2,000+ tv episodes, according to the company. The site’s focus will be on premium content and not particularly on snacking content like video clips, and movie trailers. While the site already features Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada content, in addition to English and Hindi videos, the company intends to offer more regional language content including Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi and Gujarati videos. Speaking with MediaNama, Satyan Gajwani, CEO, Times Internet, said that with a tie-up with Sony Pictures and other players, it would be one of the first companies to offer International movies and TV series in the Indian market, and would target users who find it difficult to get access to it, legally. The site supports adaptive streaming, and offers a video resolution based in the user’s connection, though users can switch to higher or lower quality streams. The service would eventually support 720p HD streams for select videos.
Content partners: Indiatimes is currently in talks with at least 30-40 content partners globally, and said that it would launch with 12 partners on board. It also announced 10 partners including Sony Pictures Television, UTV Motion Pictures, Shemaroo, Rajshri, Lehren, and Zoom among others.
Pricing & Monetization: The service will be based on a Freemium model, with users being offered access to ad supported free content, and subscription based access to premium content. The company has priced the subscription at Rs 199 per month in India, $4.99 per month in the US and GBP 4.99 per month in the UK. In India, BoxTV will offer subscriptions online, allowing users to pay for the service via their credit cards.
However, according to the company, a paid subscription won’t necessarily mean an ad-free viewing experience, though the ads might be less in number and not intrusive. The company did not specifically mention the split between paid and free content but said that there would be some exclusive content for paid subscribers. The other revenue stream for the company would be advertising. It plans to have specific brand tie-ups and non-intrusive advertising within and outside of the video frame. The company categorically mentioned that it intends to keep ad rates high to have good levels of monetization.
On Tie-Ups with ISPs: On being asked if Indiatimes plans to tie-up with an ISP to bundle the service with a broadband plan or exempt usage from data caps as most ISPs throttle speed after a user crosses a certain level of data consumption, the company clarified that it does not have an existing tie-up, but might consider it in the future. Gajwani, however, also added that the company would like BoxTV to retain its own identity. While the service requires a 256 Kbps connection, a 512 Kbps connection is recommended.
*Disclosure- Indiatimes is an advertiser with MediaNama