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Is Star’s VoD ‘hot’ enough?

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MUMBAI: "At Star, we have always focused on dramatically enhancing the overall consumer experience. Smart technology, combined with powerful content, can be disruptive…,” had said Star India CEO Uday Shankar when the network launched its online sports platform starsports.com.

Two years have passed since then and keeping up with the changing times, the giant network is back with a new platform. Christened hotStar, the video on demand (VoD) portal, currently running in beta version, will change the way people view content on television or digitally.

With everything found under one roof, the platform has all the genres the network dabbles in. From popular dailies to live sporting events, a click will please many.

The network labels the platforms as the “most compelling catalogue ever offered over-the-top on mobile and the web, making it the most the most complete video destination for consumers.”

With around 20,000 hours content spread across seven languages, which includes 120+ full length TV shows, 500+ movies and live screening of popular sports like cricket, football, tennis and kabbadi, hotStar caters to a very large and diverse audience.

Available across devices, the VoD is not the first such platform launched by a television network in the country; Ditto TV was launched by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) in 2012. There are many other such platforms like Biscoot and Zenga also available today.

Believes Shotformats Digital Productions CEO and managing director Niyati Shah that though the platform looks nice but the concept of launching the same isn’t clear. “On television there is appointment viewing and in the digital world it is all about snacking. And with only Star content available on the platform, I don’t know what will be the scalability.”

The free to view platform has a simple and easy user interface. However, what stands out is the logo which though is a star but is quite different from that of the networks logo. The tilted star has bright neon green and yellow colours. Its name is another feature that stands out.

“It does sound like a talent show,” says FCB Ulka Digital creative head Sudarshan Sudevan but quickly adds, “But for a site of this sort, it’s not the name that’s critical, it’s the content. And the users will get a hang of it in due course of time.”

Sudevan is excited that Star India is finally into video on demand. “With a good mix of TV shows, movies and sports … I am sure the video friendly population of today is going to have a treat. The network’s idea to enter the space that has been dominated by international players like Netflix and Amazon will be of a pleasure for fans here,” he adds.

Agrees L&K Saatchi & Saatchi India CEO and managing partner Anil Nair that today people want to view content on the move.

However, Shah isn’t convinced. “If I’m a Star TV viewer and miss something, maybe then I would come on the portal. Otherwise I have doubts who would log on,” she states while emphasisng on the fact that through the networks’ strength, the platform might get marketed well but the future will tell the true story.

Nair too points out that today when there are aggregators like Youtube and Apple TV, the lack of genres available on Star’s new platform might become a hurdle. “Hopefully, in the future, the app will add more genres to its bouquet otherwise this can become a reservation for a viewer.”

Highlighting that digitisation will change the mediums in the country, the experts are optimist that with many leaps to take, service providers have a lot to offer.

The network has already started the ground work and a click on any of its current websites (apart from StarSports.com) directly takes the viewer to the new platform. The soft launch has successfully been able to create the buzz and now one just has to wait for the big band launch.

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