Update: Sony Liv has inked a partnership with Affle Group for displaying interactive advertising on its VOD platform. The financial details of the deal have not been disclosed. Sony LIV will use Affle’s Ripple rich media and video ad network to serve video and mobile advertising on Sony LIV across all screens including mobiles, tablets & PC’s.
January 23, 2013: Sony Liv, a video on demand service, has been launched by Multi Screen Media (formerly SET India Pvt Ltd), and will showcase TV Shows from MSM’s TV Channels – Sony, SAB and MAX. Sony also runs other video portals for its shows such as MyIndianIdol.com for Indian Idol and KBCSony.com for Kaun Banega Crorepati. Nitesh Kripalani, SVP (New Media, Business Development and Digital/Syndication) at MSM claimed that KBCSony.com has over 25 million visits overall.
Currently, Sony Liv features episodes from KBC from last year and users will have visit KBCSony.com for viewing recent episodes. Sony will continue to operate them as a separate entity and Sony Liv will aggregate all videos from those websites, along with other TV shows to become one stop destination for all Sony shows.
Liv will offer users with currently running shows such as CID, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, as well as episodes of shows that’s not currently airing such as Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin, Kkusum, Heena, Boogie Woogie, Movers & Shakers, Office Office. Apart from that, LIV also features an archive of seventeen years of movies and special events like Stardust and Filmfare Awards. Although the company claims that it also features movies, we couldn’t find any at the time of writing this article.
No Live Shows; Geographical Restrictions?
Sony Liv will continue remain a video on demand service and Sony doesn’t plan to integrate Sony’s live shows with the service. The website does not have any geographical restrictions, that is, anyone from within India and outside of India can access the content from the website. Kripalani said that he is aware that some of the content might not have the rights to broadcast outside of India, and that the company will will respect and comply to the rights. However, users outside India can still access the site or download the app and access content that’s available.
On the portal, users can view content without registering, however, users who also want to track shows will have to register on the website. We were not able to register on the portal using Facebook connect. Surprisingly the website offers only Facebook connect as a way of registration. However, we were able to register on the website with an email id and password through their mobile app. Registered users can follow a show, add episodes to queue, and like an episode.
The shows are categorized into genres such as comedy, drama, events, among others. Users can also search for TV series in the search box, however, the search bar did not return results for us. Liv’s Mood Wheel feature allows viewers to search for videos based on mood/genre and time preferences. The portal also carries a loyalty program called Liv Guru, where it gives reward points to loyal users for engagement. The company claims that these reward points will eventually allow users to win goodies and gift hampers.
Apart from the website, Sony Liv is also available on smartphone platforms such as Android, and on iPhone and iPad. We gave the app a spin on an Android handset and it worked flawlessly. The mobile app allows users to do everything that it allows on the Liv website including ability to view videos, add shows to queue, follow shows, and features such as mood wheel, among others.
When we tried the app, we felt that the app uses some video compression technology. However, Kripalani, refused to indulge into any significant detail about it. However, he claimed that it’s something Sony prides themselves in.
On whether long form videos, such as 22 minute video that Sony currently runs on the Liv, are suitable for mobile users, Kripalani tells us that the app in allows users to view video clips in 5, 10, 20, and 40 min format in the apps mood wheel feature. We couldn’t locate the short form videos on the app outside of mood wheel.
Second Screen App Approach
Sony also plans to use the Liv app as a second screen experience app to enable users to interact with the shows in the near future. Currently, users can only like the shows from the Sony Liv app and share them on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The ability to interact with features such as voting the shows is being built, Kripalani informs.
While many other mobile video content players have failed to attract users, Sony claims that they have studied the market with the launch of KBCsony.com and know exactly what the user wants. Kripalani thinks that when it comes to mobile video content, the massive challenge is to acquire a loyal user base and thinks that Liv will succeed based on the content and by providing a good user interface and user experience on the website and the app. Another way Sony will tackle the market is by providing the user with what he wants and when he wants it. Hence, Sony will only concentrate on providing video on demand as users can access the shows from anywhere and on any platform. One of the reason, we think, that video content players have failed in the past was due to lack of content. Video content providers had to buy content rights and aggregate the content from providers, which is quite expensive. Sony Liv has an advantage with 17 years of content.
Currently, the website does not monetize on the website or the app. Kripalani says that initially they will work towards increasing it’s user base. Once the company attracts enough users, it will start monetizing its content through advertising. On the website, the company claims that more than 1 lakh videos have already been played. Kripalani also mentioned that currently, about 20 to 30% of its visitors are mobile users. He thinks that in next few years, with smartphone prices coming down, mobile usage for video consumption will increase.
Liv competes with players like Box TV (still in alpha. Yes, still.), Eros, and Rajshri. Eros has been talks with mobile operators and digital cable companies for content partnerships and has also launched its own branded Subscription Video On Demand channels on DTH, IPTV and Digital Cable platforms. It’s interesting to note that Star TV. There are other players like Mundu TV, and Ditto TV that streams live TV content. STAR still hasn’t launched its video content site…we should stop waiting for it, yes?