Pull out the popkorn for online video

By Tarana Khan , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital
Last updated : May 19, 2008
MyPopkorn.com showcases three minute videos or webisodes of soap operas and other TV shows, news and movie clips. The interesting part is that all these videos are available free for the viewer

What do

you do when you miss an episode of your favourite TV show? You probably wait for the rerun to appear on the weekend, or if you are Internet savvy, you log on to YouTube and search for it among the thousands of videos uploaded by users. Now, you have a third option - simply log on to MyPopkorn.com and choose the TV channel and show you want to watch. That's it. And the best part is that it's all legal and you will not be guilty of promoting web piracy.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it is. The website is owned by Digital Media Convergence Ltd (DMCL), a part of the Essel Group, which also owns Zee Turner Ltd and DishTV. MyPopkorn is a website which showcases three minute videos or webisodes of soap operas and other TV shows, news and movie clips.

The interesting part is that all these videos are available free for the viewer. Manoj Padmanabhan, vice-president, marketing, DMCL, says that the business model for the site is purely advertising. "We want our users to enjoy the experience, so we don't want to follow a subscription model," he says. Currently, the site has no advertising, which will only appear six months down the line, as the website continues to evolve. Padmanabhan is clear that there will be no intrusive advertising on the site, such as banners ads; instead, the ads will be more interactive and content oriented.

Padmanabhan insists that MyPopkorn does not compete with sites such as YouTube, which work on user generated content (UGC) or videos uploaded by users. It does not even compete for the viewership of TV channels as the episodes are condensed into shorter versions. He explains, "The webisodes will supplement the TV viewership by creating curiosity in the mind of the consumer. Besides, it will attract an online audience, which does not regularly watch TV." He adds that MyPopkorn is actually an extended platform for TV channels to promote themselves.

Manoj Padmanabhan
The site has entered into arrangements with Sony, STAR and Zee for selected channels, including Zee TV, STAR Plus, STAR One and Sony. The channels have a revenue sharing model with MyPopkorn, but Padmanabhan does not reveal the specifics. He adds that the site will be selective about the number and kind of channels they showcase, as they are still trying to understand what the consumer wants to see. There are only eight channels on the site at present.

MyPopkorn was launched in the first week of April and was being test marketed a few months earlier. Padmanabhan claims that the site has received visitors from 137 countries, spending an average of 20 minutes on the site. He adds that one lakh videos are viewed every day on the site.

For users who have registered with the site, MyPopkorn is working on a system to show only relevant videos according to their preference. The website is also working on a social networking platform which will allow users to share opinions on the videos and watch the videos online at the same time.

MyPopkorn is developing a section on the site, called MyStage, which will be an online video showcase for talent. "We are also exploring the possibility of a revenue sharing model with users on MyStage, based on videos uploaded by them, and the viewership they get," adds Padmanabhan. MyStage is a key offering of the company and it plans to launch a mass campaign to promote it.

First Published : May 19, 2008

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