BoxTV, Times Internet’s online streaming video service, doesn’t just want to become the Netflix of India–it also sees itself as an Indian film discovery platform for viewers in other countries. It is now available for all viewers after its limited launch in September.
Like Gaana, Times Internet’s streaming music service, BoxTV, makes finding content easy, even for people who can’t speak Hindi. Films have English subtitles and Times Internet CEO Satyan Gajwani told me the service has “invested a lot of energy into really perfect metadata, so every movie has an English description that not only summarizes the movie, but summarizes each of the key scenes and music sequences, which is really what Indian cinema is known for globally.” Content is also organized by popularity, genres, curated features, and the viewing habits of your friends.
BoxTV licenses content from Indian movie producers across seven languages (including Tamil, Telegu, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Bhojpuri, and Bengali) and makes it accessible across a wide range of platforms, taking into account the wide range of ways in which Indian consumers access the Internet. In addition to a Web site, BoxTV is available on iOS devices, Android phones and tablets, Kindle and TV-connected platforms like Roku, EvoTV and Woxi Pod. Bollywood producers providing content for BoxTV include UTV Motion Pictures, Shemaroo Entertainment, Rajshri Entertainment and Everymedia Technologies. Aside from Indian production studios, BoxTV has also signed contract agreements with Sony Pictures Television and Disney UTV, allowing its audience to gain access to Hollywood TV shows and movies like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Spider-Man” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Developers are keen to reach an audience outside of India. Besides India, BoxTV is also now available in the U.S., U.K., United Arab Emirates and Singapore, and will expand to all other countries. Gajwani says he expects that outside of India, the U.S. will be the service’s biggest initial market, but it’s also had unexpected traction in the U.K. and U.A.E. “In the medium to long-term, we think India will be the largest market, but to start, we expect the U.S. to be larger,” says Gajwani.
While there are other services out there that offer streaming videos and films from Indian producers (and a lot of older films and TV shows are available on YouTube), Gajwani hopes that Times Internet’s name recognition and large catalog will set it apart.
“There’s a huge base of Indian content which isn’t easily accessible by Indians globally and so we want to serve our userbase by making that connection. As we scale I’m sure our strategy will evolve as well, but today we are really connecting content and users in a way that isn’t significantly there. In many cases, we’re the ones helping to digitize movie catalogs for a content producer for the first time,” says Gajwani.
BoxTV is a member of the Times of India Group and plans to monetize through advertising and paid subscriptions.