Home / Specials / Mbillionth Awards /  A single stop shop for streaming live television on mobile phones

New Delhi: As the use of smartphones increases in India, real-time streaming of television shows on phone screens is seen as the next area of opportunity by many. A boon to people on the move, particularly young users, such streaming services have proliferated in recent times.

One such app, called NexGTv, developed by DigiVive, has seen millions of downloads from the Google Play store for the Android platform, the world’s top smartphone operating system. The app is also available on Apple Inc.’s App Store and Blackberry App World.

NexGTv allows live and deferred streaming of more than 100 television stations in India on a mobile phone. “We wanted to create a single-stop shop where people can get everything they want, channels they would like to watch anytime anywhere," says G.D. Singh, director, DigiVive.

Once the app was downloaded in large numbers, it attracted the attention of telecom operators, and DigiVive now has agreements with many of them in India to offer operator-specific content, says Singh. “Today, we are one of the most popular mobile TV applications," he claims.

The app comes with features associated with satellite TV distributors such as an English programming guide, re-ordering of channels and programme reminders. The experience is similar to watching TV, albeit on a small screen.

There are four categories of content that dominate the channel mix—general entertainment, sports, movies and news. Currently, NexGTv has 140 channels and has clocked a total of 14 million downloads across various platforms. Android drives the downloads with 60% share, while 30% belongs to Nokia’s Symbian, Windows Mobile has 6-7% share and iOS about 3-4%.

“We have seen a lot of traction in Windows download since we launched it six months ago. So by this year-end we see it growing its share," said Singh.

The mobile streaming space is crowded as there are a lot of services available for people to choose from. The major share rests with YouTube, which pioneered the user-generated content stream. Others like MunduTV, BoxTV, Ditto TV and so on are also sprucing their game.

“Our uniqueness lies in the user-friendly UI (user interface) design of the app. It is easy to use, clutter-free, has adaptive streaming capability," Singh said. “The other unique feature is the ReplayTV."

Replay TV offers viewers an option to watch the last seven episodes of popular programmes. It also offers services such as on-demand movies.

NexGTv’s revenue model is based on two streams: subscriptions and mobile video advertising. It follows a so-called freemium model of subscription, which is a mix of free and premium content.

Seventy channels are free for any user who downloads the free NexGTv app. A user can move to premium packs, which provide access to other 50 channels. The premium packs costs between 75-100 a month, depending on the telecom operator.

“When it comes to conversion from free to premium, it is a very pull-based approach. We don’ t push anyone to subscribe to a premium pack. They do it on their own when they think it is giving them something more at an affordable price," said Singh. The conversion rate is 5-7% from free to premium, he said.

Video advertising is done on free channels. “Also, free channels give me hits, so it is easy to make money from them with ads," said Singh. The company doesn’t do banner ads but video ads only, which are placed between the videos. For operators and the company, it is a win-win situation because they earn revenue from both data use and subscriptions, he said.

Over 30,000 hours of programming is consumed every day on NexGTv, Singh claims. For any user, the average monthly consumption is 71 minutes. It gets 90,000-100,000 unique users every day. The top category is entertainment and includes channels such as Sony TV, Star TV, Colors and LifeOk. “There is a lot of demand for two- or three-day old programming,’ says Singh. “People are curious to know what happened in the serial yesterday, so Replay TV is one of the most popular feature."

Singh is a firm believer in healthy competition. “The space is very tricky. We don’t want to do what others are doing. We came with a TV mind-set and we have found our space in that segment," he said.

On future prospects for the company, he plans to venture into other data products with niche content. Strategic tie-ups are another area the company may explore.

“At the moment, we would like to consolidate our position from the revenue prospective," Singh said. “We would also like to produce programmes exclusively meant for NexGTv and monetize that on our network."

Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the mBillionth Awards.

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