YuppTV, a decade-old video-streaming service for the diaspora, is finally finding a savvy audienceSohini Mitter
With a slew of multi-language offerings in live and catch-up TV, movies, original shows and film premiers, YuppTV is out to “change status quo” in the entertainment industry.
YuppTV is one of the earliest video-streaming services to have showcased Indian films and television shows. Founded in 2006 by Uday Reddy, the Atlanta-headquartered service specialises in content for the South Asian diaspora, and carries programming of more than 300 TV channels across 15 languages.
It is backed by Emerald Media, an investment platform set up by global private equity giant KKR to fund fast-growing media and entertainment ventures across Asia. In 2016, Emerald Media acquired a significant minority stake in YuppTV for $50 million.
Besides television shows and movies, YuppTV has now expanded into original programming, which is fast becoming the pot of gold in video-streaming. The on-demand video and over-the-top (OTT) content space in general has exploded in the last few years, following the rise of Netflix.
The market now is more conducive for experimentation in content formats, pricing, partnerships, strategies, etc. than it was a decade ago. YourStory caught up with YuppTV Founder and CEO Uday Reddy who spoke about the same.
Here are edited excerpts:
YS: What do you make of the evolution in the video-streaming space in India?
UR: The boom in the OTT space is here to define the future of entertainment services and how they will be accessed and consumed in the time to come. The trend closely follows the increasing focus on digitalisation in the country promoted by the government with its flagship Digital India scheme. Additionally, giving a further boom to OTT is the emergence of the millennial generation as the leading consumer demographic in India and across the globe.
Empowered with high disposable incomes, this tech-savvy generation prefers accessing entertainment solutions on-the-go and is increasingly ditching traditional TV-viewing for smart and personalised entertainment solutions delivered via the internet and aggressive data plans offered by various networks. Hence, in the view of changing consumption patterns and strengthening of the digital infrastructure, OTT content delivery and live-streaming is undoubtedly the future.
YS: What are YuppTV's content offerings?
UR: YuppTV has 25,000 hours of entertainment content catalogued in its library, with nearly 2,500 hours of new on-demand content (including catch-up content) added to the platform every day. We offer live TV and catch-up TV along with YuppTV Originals, which we recently launched.
Earlier, we had unveiled YuppFlix, a movie-on-demand streaming service for the expat market, and YuppTV Bazaar, an online marketplace for the premium content curators.
Then we also have Mini Theatre, where we do internet premieres of movies. Mini Theatre makes new movies available on the first day or the first weekend of the release even in geographies excluded from the theatrical release.
YS: Why did you venture into original content creation which is supposed to be cost-intensive?
UR: We launched YuppTV Originals to explore unconventional concepts beyond cinema. We have partnered with the South Indian film fraternity’s top talent, including Deva Katta, Swapna Dutt, and others. Originals will be available in an episodic format exclusively on YuppTV’s platform.
YS: What are the content partnerships you have stitched so far? How important are these alliances?
UR: We have found a way to grow and enrich the platform with diverse content alliances.
We have been working on strategic outreach. The alliance with Vodafone offers YuppTV’s premium content on Play, the OTT app by Vodafone, enabling subscribers direct access to YuppTV’s extensive collection of live-TV, web series, shows, and movies.
Additionally, our association with Ola provides commuters with direct access to an extensive array of Live TV options by YuppTV across categories such as news, music, and general entertainment, on Ola Play.
These outreach alliances ensure an uninterrupted living-room-to-car experience. The content available is customised depending on customer preferences and ride information like time, destination, and preferred language, to provide the perfect connected in-car experience.
YS: How much content is made accessible through partnerships with telecom companies?
UR: Currently, we have integrated YuppTV app/module with some telcos and partners and have made the Live TV channels available. In future, we will try to offer the VOD section as well. Our partners are mainly excited to showcase YuppTV Originals to their users, which in turn helps us to reach a wider audience base.
YS: How has YuppTV grown in the last ten years?
UR: We started YuppTV with the intent of providing the most entertaining content to the Indian diaspora and the expat community. Till date, that is our strength. We started with just two channels and today we offer over 300 Indian TV channels, more than 5,000 movies and 100+ TV shows across 14 Indian languages. Such a vivid assortment of Indian entertainment channels is currently unrivalled, and our service offering will only strengthen with time.
YS: The OTT market is increasingly getting cluttered. How do you differentiate YuppTV as a service?
UR: YuppTV is currently the #1 ranked internet pay-TV platform for Indians living abroad and also the largest internet TV platform for premium content in India. It is the most downloaded Indian SmartTV app boasting of 14.5 million mobile downloads.
One of the key differences YuppTV has made in the OTT and entertainment space is that of streamlining processes. Today consumers are aware and are actively using platforms that serve content according to their convenience. YuppTV allowed broadcasters to streamline their channels’ content and reach out to these new users regardless of geographical boundaries.
YS: What is YuppTV’s pricing model? How do you mix and match your plans?
UR: We follow a subscription model in the overseas markets, where packages and their pricing are according to different geographies. However, in India, we follow both subscription and ad-supported models. To the paying subscribers, we offer ad-free premium content. In our free services, we include ads based on geolocation and past behaviour patterns of the users.
YS: How does YuppTV match up to its peers which include global giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as well as Indian services like Hotstar, Voot, Jio TV and so on?
UR: The OTT market in India is still at a nascent stage and hence, provides enough room and opportunities for different players to grow and prosper in the ecosystem. Instead of perceiving other players as competition or threat, we view it as different partners endeavouring together to create a dent in the status quo.
YuppTV differentiates itself from other players through both technology and content. We continuously strive to add more content to our platform and the emphasis is laid on providing a complete content package to our users with a focus on YuppTV Originals.
We have already launched two of our proprietary initiatives. Mini Theatre is one of the biggest disruptions in the field of internet premiers that enables expat users to catch the latest movies within a week of its release. Content producers can also access the platform to provide the best exposure to their undertakings, especially if they lack the wherewithal of a theatrical release in diverse geographical locations.
Most importantly, in terms of technology, we have very efficient streaming features like VBR, DVR, etc. which ensure an excellent viewing experience.