With India’s becoming one of the largest, and certainly the fastest growing, smartphone market in the world, OTT players have started making a beeline for the market. While content providers like Netflix and Hulu have not yet come in, Singapore-based startup HOOQ is trying to gain the first mover advantage by launching Asia’s first premium regional video-on-demand service in India. Launched this January, the service is now available in Philippines and Thailand.
“Unlike other service providers we are very focussed on emerging markets and we think of India as Ground Zero,” says Peter Bithos, CEO. He says HOOQ will offer India the largest and best catalogue of Hollywood and Indian content at extremely low prices. So for those signing up for the Rs 199 per month subscription there will be no limits on the number of downloads on up to five devices with a maximum of two simultaneous streams. This will give them access to around 5,000 Hollywood titles and over 10,000 Indian ones on smartphones, tablets and PCs.
It helps that Sony Entertainment and Warner Brothers, along with Singtel, are one of the biggest backers of this startup. Krishna Rajagopalan, who heads content at HOOQ, says they will stay premium by keeping away from content that is already available on free ad-supported platforms like YouTube.
“Our goal is to offer the best of Hollywood content along with almost all Indian movies spread across languages. We are almost 60 per cent of that target now and will keep evolving with time and based on consumer feedback and demand,” he adds.
Bithos says the service has been designed for countries like India and will keep the bandwidth restrictions in mind. “While the app will natively stream based on the bandwidth available, the customers will also be able to select the quality of the stream,” he says.
Bithos says the service has been priced “conveniently” so that it makes “piracy feel like an annoyance”. Users will initially be able to pay using credit cards and through PayTM. The service will kick off in Beta on May 27.