Television all set to revive broadband initiative

With a view to connecting further with viewers and strengthening its online community of users, Sony Entertainment is in the process of revamping

Senior V-P IT and new media Sony Entertainment Television Anil Garg said that to give the site an increased feeling of interactivity, the broadband section, which has been in a state of slumber for quite a while, would be revived before the end of the month. Due to the attention being given to the look of setindia this part had thus far been overlooked, Garg said.

Through virtual reality, viewers will be able to move around the set to get a feel of a particular show. The archive section lets people see clips of famous people who have appeared on a show on Sony. This section was discontinued after the talk show Movers and Shakers stopped airing on Sony last year, Garg said.

One can also expect to see more games relating to serials appear on the site. However, watching programmes online, whether it is a cricket match or a serial is unlikely. Garg said there was the issue of transfer of rights to be considered in these matters. Referring to the serials, Garg pointed out that bandwidth requirement is too high. In India, where the flow of content is not smooth, streaming media will just not work, Garg said.

The most recent online initiative that undertook involved an online chat with Kutumb star Pradhan organised on Monday afternoon that drew 1,760 fans. Asked whether any other stars had been lined up for the immediate future, garg replied in the negative. However, he said that once the ICC cricket licled off on the channel, one could expect to chat with cricket stars like Kapil Dev (SET's brand ambassador for the next three year's for all cricket-related activity).

Queried as to the size of the online community the site services, Garg said currently there are a half a million Setizens. One of the main reasons for the ongoing revamp was that the site was lagging behind the television channels in terms of look, colour and feel, Garg said. Now the colour of each site, whether Sony or Max, matches the colour on the tube. Among the other changes that have been incorporated are that visitors are greeted with a navigation guide that has been brought on top. So one can straight away visit the section of one's interest. Previously users found it difficult to find their way amid the clutter, Garg said.

Sony Entertainment's head IT honcho Anil Garg.

According to Garg the revamp started two to three months ago and the site is now dynamic and database driven. He pointed out that the site had been revamped four to five times in the last three years. Tools used in the latest redesign included ASP, Java script. The work was done entirely in-house by a four-member team so costs were minimal, Garg said.

Regarding online initiatives to push programmes on the tube, Garg said microsites are designed every time a major programme initiative takes place on SET or MAX. Right now there is a microsite celebrating the Subhash Ghai film festival running on Max. In addition to plot synopsis and star bios, fans can also download attractive wallpaper, Garg said.

Regarding how the site would promote cricket, he said that plans were still being formulated. Cricketainment a site that was active in 1999-2000, could be revived, he said. Alternately, a separate section on the Sony site might be created, he said.

Queried whether his team had developed an ERP (enterprise resource planning) package for Sony Entertainment, Garg said that a 24-hour ERP system was in place which helps with both ad sales as well as subscription revenues. 

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