Times Internet Ltd had officially unveiled its online video service BoxTV last month, but at the time we could not access it since it was in invitation only mode. We finally managed to get our hands on one (note that the site is still in invitation only mode) and hence were able to take the service through a test run and also compare it with other similar players like BigFlix, Eros Now and Spuul. Here is our take on the site:
While the site will eventually offer both movies and TV shows, as of now, it is only offering movies with a 'coming soon' sign under TV shows. The content present on the site can be filtered according to languages (English, Hindi, Tamil and Telegu) and genre (action, adventure, comedy, crime, family and short film, etc. -- total 21) and the various categories in which the content is offered include 'just added', 'popular' and 'for you' (offers content based on the users viewership pattern). One can also view 'user's activity', which basically shows what movies other users have watched. Users can also connect via Facebook to view what movies your friends are watching.
Movies can be searched according to movie name, genre or actor. Users also have the option of sharing movies (on Twitter or Facebook), rating them, adding them to favourites, liking or disliking them and posting comments about them (note that comments are moderated and will be rejected if they are not relevant to the content or if they are abusive). The site provides details like synopsis of the movie, its director, language, genre, release date, censor board rating as well as BoxTV rating. It also suggests movies on the basis of what the user is currently watching.
The service will compete with existing players like Spuul, BigFlix and Eros Now.
Content and platforms
BoxTV offers content in a freemium model, which means part of the content is ad-supported and free, while the rest is available only on a subscription basis. The site offers both Hollywood and Bollywood content, in addition to Indian regional languages.
While BoxTV focuses on movies and TV Shows, Spuul offers movies, TV shows as well as IIFA coverage and information on Bollywood actors. In contrast, Eros Now and BigFlix mainly focus on movies and music videos.
BoxTV's content partners include Sony Pictures, UTV, Shemaroo, Rajshri and the site claims to have around 3,500 movies, 500 short films and 2,000 TV shows. In comparison, BigFlix has over 1,000 movie titles and Eros Now has over 2000 titles (since Eros digitised its film library comprising of 2,000 films last year). Spuul had around 200 movies as of April 2012, and while this number must have increased considerably since then, the competitors look to be much ahead, at least in terms of catalogue.
The company claims that the BoxTV app is available for platforms like iOS, Android as well as TV-connected platforms such as Roku. Both Spuul and Eros Now only have an iOS app as of now, but the Android version for Eros Now is to be launched soon. On the other hand, BigFlix already has a presence on Android, iOS as well as the Windows platform (the company claims it is the first one to do so for Windows).
Post launch, for BoxTV, Indian subscriptions will start at Rs 199 per month, while users in UK and US would need to shell out $4.99 and £4.99 per month, respectively. In comparison, Spuul's monthly membership is $4.99 for premium movies and $0.99 for special movies that are only available for 72 hours after first playing the movie.
Eros Now's premium membership is priced at $4.99 per month, but as an introductory offer it is available for a discounted price of $2.99. Additionally, users can sign up now and get a two weeks free trial. BigFlix offers multiple subscription options. The unlimited movies subscription on BigFlix is available for Rs 249, while the quarterly subscription pack costs Rs 747 and a 7-day trial pack costs Rs 99.
All these sites are easy to navigate and mostly clutter free (you can read in detail about Eros Now here and to know more about Spuul click here. We believe the differentiator will not be the user interface but the collection of content on offer, its quality, and the pricing.
(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)