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Exclusive Interview with Mr. Vishal Maheshwari – Vuclip Country Manager

Vishal Maheshwari Vuclip

Tell us something about your Company Vuclip?

Vuclip is a leading video-on-demand (VOD) service provider for emerging markets of India, South East Asia and the Middle East with 9 million subscribers per quarter. Headquartered in Milpitas, California, Vuclip and its subsidiaries have a presence in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Dubai, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Bangkok.

When we started in 2008, our focus was on bringing video entertainment to the screens of feature phone users in emerging markets albeit the challenges of patchy network connectivity and high data costs. We saw this as an opportunity for us to leverage our patented technology to deliver a seamless buffer-free video viewing experience across multiple mobile devices and networks. Our core offerings included the mobile site m.vuclip.com, and the Vuclip Search App that was downloadable on Android, Java and Windows devices.

We have the distinction of bringing mobile video to the masses through strategic tie-ups with telecom carriers in these markets such as Maxis, Telkomsel, AIS, Airtel, Vodafone, IDEA and much more.

In March 2015 PCCW Media a Hong Kong-based Media and Entertainment Group acquired a majority stake in the company to the roll-out of best in class over the top (OTT) video service – Viu in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, India. And very recently in Indonesia. Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are countries where Viu would be launched by the end of this year.

We are today working towards our mission of entertaining a billion customers by forging strategic partnerships with over 270 top studios around the world. To bring premium content regarding latest movies, TV shows and music videos in more than 34 different languages.

What is the future of Web Video Search?

Video discovery is key to a great user experience and thereby greater engagement. It is more than just using the right descriptive words for the metadata. In the OTT VOD business, a vast majority of these would be celebrity names or names of films, TV shows etc. What works out to be a differentiator would be suggestions of videos of the same actor or movies of the same genre for the viewer to consider, based on their historical viewing patterns.

Thematic content – i.e. the collection of videos based on a particular theme is something which we have on offer for users of our OTT service – Viu. These again are curated based on our eight years of video consumption data.

As to what the future would hold, Video search on VOD platforms can become more intuitive. As a viewer, you may not want to watch an entire movie, but choose to view only a particular scene. Imagine searching for that scene with dialogue as the keywords and you took to that scene. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

What do you expect in the near future with respect to Digital Media?

Let’s distill it down to the future of the OTT VOD industry since Vuclip belongs to that space:

• VOD platforms will become the end to end marketing channels for brands on account of enabling targeting of prospective consumers better. I say end to end because they do not just serve as mediums for advertisements but can also facilitate the process of sales.

• 360-degree videos, which provide an immersive video viewing experience for viewers, have just caught on. The trailer of Conjuring 2 is a case in point.

• There will be the greater proclivity to pay for video content in emerging markets if viewers see greater value in the content offering and the overall user experience when compared to pirated video websites.

• Original content would play a key role in shaping the future of VOD players.

• The role of technology would stand all the more pronounced in being a service delivery differentiator. You may have the best of content with you, but if the viewing experience is sub-par, then it would be a challenge to retain the interest of viewers.

Tell us something about Vuclip’s new App “Viu” ?

Viu is the OTT VOD service offered by Vuclip with a diverse catalogue of over 42,000 hours of content including Bollywood and Indian regional movies, music videos and popular English serials. It also has ‘Viu Collections’ – thematic videos curated based on video consumption insights and Originals such as ‘What the Duck’, a cricket comedy chat show hosted by cricket humourist Vikram Sathaye.

Viu offers content in 25 different languages for Indian audiences and has forged partnerships with production houses and content owners to localise the content to cater to the taste of the Indian audience.

70% of the Rs. 100 Crore Club movies of Bollywood are on Viu. With more than 3000 hours of music videos in its catalogue, Viu has the largest collection offered in India.

It is a freemium service with access to thousands of hours of free content as well as a premium portion that can subscribe for Rs. 99 per month.

What sets it apart from the competing VOD players is the superior user experience of enhanced navigation, video search, celebrity trivia and buffer-free viewing optimized across devices and networks.

It can be accessed on Android as well as iOS-based devices. Viewers have the choice of streaming videos in HD or SD as well as viewing videos off-line through an ‘Offline Download’ feature.

What are Video Consumption Trends Globally v/s those in emerging markets?

The Vuclip Global Video Insights Survey for 2015 has compared developing markets such as India with developed markets on the basis of four broad categories: OTT VOD service features that viewers consider important, device preference, types of video content consumed and video consumption behaviour in terms of preference to stream or download.

Salient insights on how India differs from the developed markets are listed below:

• Indian viewers lay greater emphasis on video quality (30%) as against those in developed nations (23%).

• Indian viewers have shown unique preferences for features that help them download videos (56%) and that give them the autonomy to select video streaming quality (52%).

• The frequency of viewing television in India is significantly higher than in developed nations with 87% respondents choosing the TV as a preferred device for entertainment with family members as against 72% in developed markets.

• Mobile network usage is significantly higher (65%) in India as compared to developed markets (49%). This can be attributed to the lesser number of free WiFi zones. Video consumption while travelling is higher in India (56%) as compared to developed nations (46%)

• The propensity to purchase videos is significantly higher in developed nations (52%) compared to India (23%).

How can users benefit by using Vuclip?

Vuclip believes in democratizing entertainment. We believe in entertainment for all and not just for the elite few. With our content localization strategy, we tailor our offerings to cater to the tastes of the users in each of the ten countries we operate in.

So in a nutshell, users benefit from accessing content that is fresh, diverse and in a language of their choice – delivering a great viewing experience.

Website : www.vuclip.com

Viu App : Google Playstore , Apple AppStore

Thank you “Mr. Vishal Maheshwari” for your valuable inputs and insights.

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