Aamir Khan’s show Satyamev Jayate managed to create quite a stir as it touched upon the sensitive subjects that mattered and jolted the conscience of the common people as well as the authorities. And to further strengthen the impact, Star India leveraged the digital medium where people could watch the show, provide solutions, donate or even share their stories. Needless to say, the digital initiative garnered a lot of response. On the other hand, with the latest instalment of the popular reality show Bigg Boss, Colors decided to launch an app to provide live 24x7 feed from inside the house. Again, the app was a huge success. Another popular entertainment channel Sony recently launched Sony LIV, a digital platform to connect with its audience.
These aren’t isolated initiatives, but point towards an emerging trend. In fact, UTV Bindass, a popular youth oriented channel was amongst the first ones to have adopted the digital path. It, however, went a step ahead by creating content exclusively for the web. These web series have a substantial fan following. The fact is that the good old idiot box is broadening its horizons beyond your living room. In step with the digital era, it has set its foot firmly on the online platform. And this is different from the third-party services that provide TV streaming on-the-go. These are the initiatives taken by the channels to establish their presence on the digital platform by making their content available for consumption online.
Colors offers live streaming
Colors is one such leading entertainment channels in India that has established its presence online. Explaining the rationale of adopting the digital medium, Vivek Srivastava – Head Digital, Colors, said, “People today are using multiple screens – laptops, smartphones, tablets etc and multiple platforms – the video sites, the social networks, Apps, Games etc to access content. Although the numbers are small especially when compared to the reach TV as a medium provides, the growth and engagement the medium provides is phenomenal. Viewers are viewing sharing, blogging tweeting TV content. Consumers are willing rather eager to engage with their favorite shows & characters outside of the silver screen. We realize this need, these serve as great conversation starters and opinion builders. It’s important that we are present wherever our consumers are seeking us, and wherever possible, channelise conversations to positively impact the brands.”
Even Star India – having launched the Star Player and Star Sports, its online platform – is quite bullish about the future of the digital medium and its focus is on deepening the level of engagement. A spokesperson from Star India, says, “The consumers for these offerings are of broadly 2 types – (a) those who are using digital screens as their preferred screen because of time/ location constraints and are unable to watch linear TV (b) our existing consumers who happen to miss their favourite show(s) and watch to catch up. It provides them with the opportunity to engage deeply with their favourite shows; watch, rate, comment and discuss about the content and also share something that they like. For instance, in the case of sports, users can view a video timeline with key moments tagged which allows them to go back to a specific moment in the match and watch it again.We intend to build audiences across medium and increase affinity for our content amongst the connected consumers, offer opportunities to our consumers to engage with our content.”
Now you can stay tuned with all the sporting action
Apart from Colors and Star, all the other major entertainment channels in India have made their content available online. We discovered that almost all of the popular channels have their content available online, though it isn’t live streaming and you will have to be content with watching your favourite soap opera a day after it has been broadcast. This isn’t too huge a price to pay, especially when you consider the benefits. First of all, you won’t have to pay a single penny to avail these services (of course, if you have a limited data plan, then you will have reasons to worry) and secondly, you can get rid of the annoying ads. And lastly, you have the option to watch it at your own convenience. So, could this mean that we can enjoy free television without having to bother about cable or even DTH? Here’s a breakdown of what the major players have to offer.
The popular channel offers its content online via Star Player. Head to StarTV.in and you can select the channel you wish to watch. While it lists all its channels, up-to-date and full content is available only for some of them. Basically, you can watch all the episodes of your regional daily soap opera and the saas-bahu saga, if that’s what interests you. However, though the list of channels also includes Star World, Star Movies, Channel V, the content here is limited; in fact, next to nothing. Again, on Star World, you can catch the latest episodes of Indian series, but international shows are limited to archives for older shows and some promos and clips from the currently running ones. So, if you watch a lot of international series, then Star Player won’t be of any use to you. It also has apps for iPhone and iPad.
Here you can catch all the latest action from Star
Recently, it also launched StarSports online platform to coincide with the Pakistan cricket team’s tour of India. It provides viewers with high definition video streaming of live cricket matches. Additionally, you have the option to follow-up the match via video scorecard and a video timeline that marks the key moments of the game. You can view the crucial moments of the match via the video timeline, even during a live match. Apart from the commentary, it also brings you the conversations from social media. However, still in the beta stage, this service will be available for free only for a limited duration. Apart from cricket, for other sports the site directs you to Fox Sports Asia site.
Sony Entertainment Television
Want to watch "Bade Acche Lagte Hain" on your PC? Head to Sony’s digital entertainment platform Sony LIV. Like Star, this is a dedicated player where you can catch the latest TV shows. It’s currently available for Android and iOS. Users can catch all the latest episodes of its popular shows from all its channels; besides this, it even includes videos of its popular classic serials. Additionally, it will also feature events and movies. Users have the option to queue their videos and even have videos suggested via the mood wheel. They even plan to have deeper user connect via the platform by offering loyalty reward points, sharing, interacting, gift hampers and even on-set visits.
The app hopes to engage viewers on more than one levels
Apart from Sony LIV, you could catch all the serials from your favourite channels from their respective YouTube channels. There is a dedicated YouTube account for each of its channels, namely Sony, Sab TV, Sony Max, Sony Pix and more. The latest episodes are uploaded on YouTube a day after they are broadcast. It also includes Sony Six, its dedicated sports channel that brings you action from all the latest regional sporting events. Apart from this, the Sony Max channel will bring you live streaming of IPL.
Viacom18, which has a bouquet of news and entertainment channels, offers deferred live streaming option. Additionally, on the Colors website you will find exclusive web content from all your favourite serials. A special section is dedicated to Roadies, which is one of its most popular shows. Similarly, Bigg Boss, its top-grosser reality show, was adequately supplemented with online content that was not just limited to the episodes, but includes exclusive content, 24x7 streaming, polls and much more. This content can also be accessed from the respective YouTube accounts.
The dedicated channel for MTV Roadies, which offers exclusive content
Apart from the regular shows, MTV’s YouTube channel also features some webisodes that bring you exclusive interviews and uncensored behind the scenes action. Colors also runs several contest based on the its daily soaps, wherein people can answer and stand a chance to win exclusive Colors merchandise. The content from Viacom 18’s other regional channels like ETV Marathi, ETV Gujrati etc. is officially available on YouTube as well.
You can watch the latest episodes from Zee on this platform
To access the content from channels that are a part of Zee Entertainment’s bouquet, you can head to this site. Here you will find the latest episodes from all its channels. However, here the content is segregated according to genres, and not channels. So if you are looking for a particular show that airs on Zee TV, then you will have to hunt for it based on the genre. Alternatively, you can head to YouTube as all the serials from all of the Zee channels are available on YouTube via their official channel. Zee TV has dedicated accounts for its channels like Zee TV, Zee News, Zing, Zee Khana Khazana, Zee Marathi and its other regional channels. In addition to the currently on-air serials, you will also find old classics that were really popular back in the day. Apart from this, it has separate YouTube channels for its popular TV shows like Dance India Dance.
For the movie buffs, there is some reason to rejoice, as in the past couple of years we have seen launch of services like Hungama Movies, YouTube Box Office, BigFlix, Yahoo Movieplex, and even apps like Spuul. Here is the complete list of services and apps that allow you to stream content. Besides this, many production houses have launched their online initiatives, which allow viewers to watch movies. Rajshri Media and Yash Raj Films are amongst the two prominent production houses who have made their content available online. However, just like with other services, even here you won’t find the latest movies. And in case of Yash Raj Films, its online movie rental service isn’t currently available for India.
You can choose from several plans to stream movies online
The digital shift is imminent
Already Smart TV’s that allow you to connect with the Internet are gaining growing acceptance amongst the consumers. If you have one of these Smart TVs, then you can simply stream the TV content on it and enjoy the big screen experience. In fact, you could also look at IPTV, a service that has been around for a while, where television is provided over the Internet protocol; basically, the TV channels are encoded and sent to TV using a set-top box. It’s truly personalised TV viewing experience as you have the option to record, pause/rewind live TV program, video-on-demand and much more. Additionally, what you also get is high speed broadband and a phone connection, which will take care of all your communication needs. Currently, this service is being offered by players like MTNL, BSNL, Airtel and Reliance; apart from this, there are several local players too who have launched IPTV plans.
Not yet available in India
Can we ditch TV?
Looking at the current scenario, the desi daily soaps shouldn’t be a problem, but when it comes to international TV serials broadcast on Indian channels, then you will draw a blank. However, if you are a desi soap opera buff, then you can quite easily enjoy your regular fare online at your convenience, that too legally and for free. When it comes to movies, your choice is heavily restricted to old movies. But content is bound to follow the audience and it is only a matter of time before the entire gamut of "television" programming is available through those data pipes.
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