News Corp. (NYSE: NWS) subsidiary Star India last week launched Star Player–an online video destination that currently features content from the broadcaster’s multiple channels. Star Player’s design and layout is similar to Hulu and Gurtej Sandhu, SVP for new media at Star, told contentSutra that the US-focussed video site is “a guiding light” in terms of building relationships with competing broadcasters, among others.
Other video sites focussing on Indian content include Nautanki.tv, Rajshri.com and NDTV’s Tubaah.com.
Key points from our chat with Sandhu:
This is a big step for Star and the company views it as a platform that offers a high-quality video experience. Currently, Star content is online through various syndications deals etc. but Star has no control over the viewer experience. (Star has online syndication deals with Nautanki.tv and Rajshri.com, among others) Star Player is in conversations with other broadcasters to get their content on board. “This platform is an enabler for Star. We will look to work with any channel,” Sandhu said. Sandhu pointed out that Star Player is the only destination where you can watch full-length shows from Star’s channels. Star will also soon add content from its regional channels such as Star Vijay and Asianet to the video lineup online.
The company is also talking to production houses to buy original content. Especially with international production houses that haven’t given away the global online rights to their archived content. The team is also working with Star’s channels to develop some web-only content. Soon, a Star One show may release online before it is aired on TV. “So there are a lot of experimentation that we are doing in this area,” Sandhu said.
Currently, the platform delivers progressive download (so if you are on a not-so-fast connection, streaming may be interrupted). Sandhu said it will soon switch to dynamic streaming, which means you can pause and wait for the video to load (like on YouTube) and watch it without interruption. A Facebook widget is already on and more social media widgets will soon be introduced. Viewers will also soon be able to pre-load their programming so that the next time they are logged in, the content comes to them.
Currently there are pre-roll ads on all videos (Reliance GSM). “We have the ability to do post rolls as well as straps in the middle,” Sandhu said. The platform also has the ability to offer contextual advertising based on the synopsis attached to every video. “We are shortly launching a very innovative campaign with Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericcsson that takes advantage of the Player technology. So there is a lot we can offer the advertiser in these terms.” Player will also soon have a self service module for advertisers. Sandhu says advertiser response has been “very positive” so far.
There are no films on Star Player just yet. Sandhu said he might introduce a paywall for international viewers for highly sought after ontent such as films. “We might have to offer a paid-for download.” He is also working to leverage the larger News Corp. network to source video content that might be of interest to Indian audiences.