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YuppTV launches in India to battle Netflix-killer Hooq

YuppTV has joined SVoD service Hooq to become the second major on-demand platform to launch in India, and with YuppTV’s offering at half the price, Hooq could find itself ousted before Netflix even gets a sniff of the Indian market.

The YuppTV OTT service is a major provider for South Asian content and has officially launched in 12 Indian languages – offering 200 live channels, a 7 day catch-up service, 100 TV shows, and 5,000 movies, in an advertisement-free package.

The mobile app is available on Android and iOS devices, with a potential reach of more than 200 million smartphone users. YuppTV is already available on the majority of smart TVs in India. The newly launched Indian service costs $0.08 for a day pass, $0.46 for a week’s subscription, or $1.53 for a month.

The obvious rival is Hooq, which launched in India back in May, brought out by Sony, Warner Brothers and Singtel to get to Asia Pacific markets before Netflix’s arrival. It was announced in January when they said it would target Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Thailand and it has already launched in the Philippines and Thailand. Hooq costs $3 per month in India, which is about the same price as a pay TV subscription. We say that’s too pricey for India, and if YuppTV proves to be a success, Hooq will certainly have to drop its subscription costs.

Indian operators Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) and Videocon d2h offer NexGTv mobile, an ad supported platform with some pay-per-view content – offering over 130 live channels, as well as TV and movies on demand. The 3G Mobile TV service costs $2.31 per month, and the 2G service costs exactly the same as YuppTV’s monthly subscription, at $1.53. MTNL and Videocon deliver NexGTv using Envivio encoding and SPB TV packaging, secured by Verimatrix.

Indian operator Bharti Airtel offers a broadband TV and movies service for a monthly fee of $3.53. DishTV, one of India’s satellite operators with 26% market share, which relies on Kudelski products for push VoD services, also launched recently. Another Indian MSO GTPL Hathway crossed the one million subscriber mark recently as well.

There are major issues surrounding the limited access of high speed internet infrastructure in India, but YuppTV says it promises to provide a buffer-less TV viewing experience using adaptive bit rate technology to viewers even on 2G connections. The poor internet connections in the country have meant India’s homegrown on-demand platforms such as Hotstar, Ogle, Big Flix and Spuul, have suffered.

With 4G connection expected nationwide in the near future, Netflix has been saying it plans to roll out across India for several months now, after the Times of India said the US OTT king had “firmed up plans.”

Media Partners Asia listed pay TV ARPU in India at $42 annually, compared to China’s $59 – far lower than what Netflix is used to, and with rivals such as YuppTV entering the market ahead of it, the company is going to struggle to persuade viewers to spend any extra on a Netflix sub – and will only steal viewers from rivals based on the strength of its library.

India is the second largest smartphone market worldwide, and the number of smartphones is expected to reach 651 million by 2019, according to a report from Cisco, also forecasting tablets to hit 18.7 million. A separate study from Statista reported that India had 59.5 million individual online video viewers as of July 2014 – still nowhere near that of China’s 450 million online TV viewers.

YuppTV has also partnered with Turner International India, the Indian arm of Turner Broadcasting, to distribute three of its channels, CNN International, Cartoon Network, and Pogo on its platform across India.

Addressing the audience at the launch, Mr. Uday Reddy, Founder & CEO of YuppTV, said, “Our vision is to liberate entertainment, to make TV accessible to all, with a rich video viewing experience. We are breaking stereotypes, disrupting the market with OTT technology, providing easy access to unlimited content over public internet.” Reddy added, “YuppTV service will be a one-stop shop for all entertainment. A new way to TV is here and it will revolutionize the way television is watched by giving the control to the user to watch TV at his convenience.”

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