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Star India's hotstar.com to premier Star Guild Awards 2015

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MUMBAI: In the US, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have taken the lead by streaming original series like House of Cards, Transparent, Orange is the New Black, Arrested Development, The Hot Wives of Orlando to their subscribers.

Indian over the top services (OTTs) like BigFlix, Spuul, BoxTV, Sony Liv, ErosNow, DittoTV have been serving as aggregation models to stream linear channels or programmes to subscribers simultaneously or after they have been aired on TV.





Now stealing a march on them is the Star India promoted online streaming services hotstar.com. In a first for India, Indya Interactive Services (which runs hotstar.com) announced that it will be premiering the Star Guild Awards 2015 on the video on demand service on 17 January from 7 pm onwards. The awards will be aired on Star Plus a day later on 18 January.

A source close to the development says that this is the next big step towards change in the way content will be delivered to viewers and consumed by them.



The Star India network, however, is going easy on the promotion of the VoD premiere:  ads were released today in leading dailies, even as 92.7 Big FM and YouTube had promos and commercials airing.  “The platform is still in the testing stage," revealed the source. "Hence, it is just seeding the service to potential subscribers."

But at first glance, the hotstar.com service seems interesting as it offers a vast programming catalogue on mobile and the web. With everything found under one roof, the platform has all the genres that the network dabbles in - from popular dailies to live sporting events.

In all it has around 20,000 hours content spread across seven languages, which include 120+ full length TV shows, 500+ movies and live screening of popular sports like cricket, football, tennis and kabbadi.

A media planner labelled the Star Guild Awards VoD premier an experiment. Said he: “I believe it is just an initiative to kick start hotstar.com.  It is just for their internal learning process as the platform is still in its beta version. The Star Guild Awards will allow them to try and test whether the platform can manage the traffic and whether it can deliver a good experience to viewers. It also allows them to correct any errors if they do crop up."

Media observers believe that premiering the awards show is not going to really ruin the telecast on Star Plus on 18 January in terms of viewership ratings. He said: “People like you and me know about it because we are in the space. But do the millions of people who watch television also know about the VoD premier?  However, as a test, an experiment I think it is good as it could attract some subscribers to try the hotstar.com service.”

That would be music for the Star India management ears. Under the leadership of CEO Uday Shankar it has been making some pioneering moves and initiatives; hotstar.com is another one of them.  

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