US-based YuppTV which offers Indian TV content to NRIs is set to launch its service in India next month, reports TelevisionPost.com. Yupp TV CEO Uday Reddy confirmed this to the publication, though no specific dates were mentioned. However, he mentioned that Yupp TV will be focusing on metro cities first and then expand to other cities.
To begin with, the service will be free for a few months and Yupp TV plans to introduce an ad-free subscription model, similar to what it does internationally. Interestingly, Yupp TV also offers a set-top box, which allows users to connect it to a normal TV set. The service is also available for Android, iOS mobile devices and Amazon Fire TV. Users can also access the service on Smart TVs, Blu-ray players, PS3 & PS4 consoles, Google TV, Boxee and WDTV Live.
Currently, Yupp TV offers TV content across Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Telegu, Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam, Odiya and English. It’s operational is US, UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Trinidad & Tobago.
Note that Yupp TV is already available in India, however currently only free-to-air channels and some news channels are accessible. Following the formal launch in the country, users will be provided access to over 200 channels and around 600 full length movies. Apparently, the company is currently working on finalising content deals with broadcasters.
In April last year, YuppTV had raised $2.5 million from the angel investor Sashi Reddi, who picked up 10% stake in the company. The company claims to have over 6 million users, though the number of paid users are still quite low. Besides live streaming of TV channels, YuppTV also offers a Catch-up TV service which allows users to view TV shows after the original broadcast and was planning to launch an on-demand movie service as well.
Competition: Most of the top TV broadcasters in India already offer dedicated streaming services for their channels – Star India has Hotstar, Zee Entertainment Enterprises has DittoTV, and Sony Entertainment has Sony LIV. Then there are independent TV shows & movie streaming services like Spuul, which has content tie-ups with several channels including Colors, Sony & SAB and MTV among others. Times Internet’s BoxTV also offers TV show content from Sony and National Geographic among others. And how can we forget YouTube, which offers content from most Indian TV channels and is also on the verge of launching an ad-free subscription service.
So, why would viewers opt for YuppTV? The quality of service could be one reason, but in order to maintain that YuppTV would have start monetising soon. That’s where the real issue is. For a Star or Zee, their streaming service is essentially a means of staying connected to viewers when they’re away from the TV sets and generating revenue isn’t a primary objective. The same isn’t the case for YuppTV. It’ll be interesting to see how soon they introduce a subscription model, or if ad-supported content will ensure enough returns.
It also needs to noted that Internet speeds are still quite abysmal in India, and is considered as one of the biggest roadblocks by several online video companies.