Unbelievable as it sounds, it’s only now that a website has been launched (as far as we know) for one of India’s oldest private news channels – Star News. Star News, run by Media Content and Communications Services (MCCS), a JV of News Corp owned Star, and Ananda Bazaar Patrika. Previously, the domain starnews.in used to redirect to STAR owned Indya.com, with a landing page and show listings. Starnews.in is available in English and Hindi versions, in conjunction with its Hindi news channel Star News, reports afaqs!. MCCS also runs similarly designed news websites for its Bengali news channel Star Ananda, and Marathi news channel, Star Majha, and hosts YouTube channels for the three news properties.

In addition to providing live streaming links for all its three news channels, the website offers news content across categories like India, World, Crime, Sports, Movies, and TV. It also offers photo and video galleries featuring content from the Star News television channel.  Live streaming is based on Microsoft Silverlight and at the time of writing this post, was working only for Star Majha.

Other digital products from the MCCS stable include Star Anchor Hunt, a contest website for aspiring news anchors. It has a partnership with Apalya for streaming news channel broadcasts on mobile phones. It also offers SMS update services on the short-code 5782728.

Our take

We need more quality Hindi news content and Star News has been a late entrant. Although, a lot of people might feel that the site is not very rich in terms of content at the moment, we feel that the front-page layout has less clutter, when compared to other Hindi news websites from competing TV channels – IBNKhabar and khabar.ndtv.com. That might change, though, once ads are launched. Content is spread in three columns, under the various categories and interestingly, each one also features a logo and telecast time of a related show on the channel.

Since both English and Hindi versions have dedicated content teams, content and categories are a little different. We noticed that emphasis has been put on providing different context to different viewers – even if a story covers the same story, the context is different according to the sensibilities of the target audience.

Although it sources stories from news agencies, keeping in mind that Star News is purely a Hindi news channel and doesn’t have a parallel English channel, unlike NDTV India and IBN7, the English website does a decent job, . The videos are from Star News, and are obviously in Hindi. So the site caters to people who can understand Hindi but are more comfortable in reading English.

The site features a live cricket score-card, and boxes for Facebook Likes and Opinion polls. It includes social media integration and articles and videos can be shared on Facebook and Twitter.

Five Things The Star News Website Should Have

1. More Content Categories: There are no city specific news categories for Metros. The site also lacks categories and content for Health, Tech and Business News, which would otherwise allow users to view content segmented according to their needs

2. Web only content, blogs, opinion: The site only has news, and there is no additional made-for-web content – no reporter blogs or impressions that go beyond or behind the news story, no opportunity for reporters to voice their opinion. IBNLive launched blogs a long time ago – why is Star News still pre-2007?

3. Mobile: attempts to access Star News on mobile yielded the full site, not a site optimised for mobile. We tried m.starnews.in, wap.starnews.in, and simply starnews.in.

4. Twitter integration: Star News is publishing news snapshots, not necessarily from specific articles on its websites, on its own twitter ID. Why not integrate that with their news website, in order to share recent updates.

5. Issue specific pages: there are specific events or issues, into which a large number of stories can fit, over a period of time – for example, news related to the Jan LokPal Bill issue, the 2G Spectrum Scam. All one needs to do, is use categories and tags to create an issues in focus section.

There’s more, but most of these are fairly obvious. Maybe Star News is justifying its “beta” tag.

(with inputs from Nikhil Pahwa)