About three years ago, Star Plus, the Hindi general entertainment channel from the STAR stable, launched its first video site to float its content online with Star Player. At the time, not many players had websites and news giants such as NDTV and BCCL routed their content through websites such as Tubaah.com (which now gets diverted to ndtv.com) and timesaudiencenetwork.com.
Nitesh Kripalani, senior vice-president, new media, business development and digital/syndication, Sony, states that the channel's earlier digital initiatives, MyIndianIdol.com and KBCSony.com, have been successful and the decision to launch the new portal comes on the back of this success. He adds, "The demographics in the country are changing. It is the right time to get digital."
The digital entertainment channel, sporting the tagline Jab Aap Chahein, will be available for the consumers on the go and the videos can be watched on-demand on this channel. It can be accessed on personal mobile handsets and tablets. Though the channel is present on the iOS and Android platforms, it is yet not available on BlackBerry devices. The mobile app can be downloaded from iTunes and Google Play (Android) for free. The network claims that it has already seen close to 60,000 downloads.
SonyLiv.com will stream content from the three channels - Sony, SAB and Max. The movies section, however, is currently not active and will take some time to be activated on the site.
Interestingly, the network does not plan to promote the content from its Bengali channel (Sony Aath), English action channel (AXN), music channel (Sony Mix) and the latest sports channel, Sony Six, on this platform.
While the current shows are available on the website, SonyLiv will also host the archives of the group of channels, which includes shows like Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin, Kkusum, Heena, Boogie Woogie, Movers & Shakers and Office Office, under the section 'Classics' on the site.
The 'Events' section will carry the videos of special events for the last 17 years, including videos of Stardust and Filmfare Awards, while the movies will be present on the 'Movies' section. Currently, the online channel has about 1,000 hours of content; the content will be refreshed daily.
The initiative largely targets the urban user in the 15-34 age bracket. Kripalani adds that the earlier websites, too, had seen traction from the same kind of TG.
Since the launch of a special section on YouTube for the Hindi TV shows, shows are doing very well online. Consider this: as on January 22, 2013, Bade Achhe Lagte Hain (Sony) had close to 22,000 subscribers on YouTube; Diya Aur Baati Hum (Star Plus) had about 4,554 subscribers; Kahaani Comedy Circus Ki (Sony) had about 15,000 subscribers; while Balikaa Vadhu (Colors) has 3,000 subscribers; Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltaah Chashma (SAB) has 20,000 subscribers; Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon (Star Plus) has 9,000 subscribers; Mahadev (Life OK) has 16,000 subscribers and CID (Sony) has 17,000 subscribers.
Explaining the need to launch a special website despite these numbers, Kripalani says that the content on YouTube is largely UGC, while of late the channel has uploaded a lot of content separately. "The searches for a particular show are very tiring on YouTube at times. SonyLiv will offer a one-stop-shop to the consumers," he shares.
SonyLiv.com will also offer three special features; Mood Wheel, which helps one to search videos based on the genre of the content; My Q, that enables the users to login through their Facebook accounts and then create their own playlist, which can be saved for two months; and LIVGuru, which is Sony's loyalty programme for loyal fans and rewards engagement.
In an official communiqué, Man Jit Sigh, CEO, MSM says that the site will be a great platform for brands to enhance their engagement and interactivity with today's young consumers.
As of now, the channel doesn't plan aggressive advertisements on the portal. Instead of normal TVC-format ads, it will look at interactive and engaging ads, similar to what it has served on the other two portals of the network, Myindianidol.com and KBCSony.com.