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Spuul’s Rajiv Vaidya on mobile video boom in India

These days everybody wants to be in the mobile video business on back of the impressive growth in mobile penetration in India. The fad is so common so that even foreign headquartered companies are exploring opportunities in the Indian landscape. Spuul, a Singapore-based studio neutral aggregator start-up that aggregates a variety of content across banners, had launched its beta version in India in 2013 and currently holds 3.5 million app downloads and half million subscriptions.

In conversation with Digital Market Asia, Rajiv Vaidya, Chief Executive Officer at Spuul India discusses the opportunities and the challenges in the video entertainment and how it is exploring the space in India. Spuul serves India based video content with wide variety of movies and television series.

“You can watch Spuul’s content on multiple devices such as mobile, tablets, laptops, smart television. etc. and to provide seamless experience you can toggle across devices and start from the same point you left it on last,” said Mr Vaidya. He also highlighted the mobile fad in India and added that 80-90 per cent of its content in India is consumed through mobile.

“We work on a premium model and the free content will be ad supported but the user can watch ad-free movies by becoming a member for INR 300 a month. Finally we have also got pay per view because some content owners wanted to be behind the paid wall,” said Mr Vaidya explaining the business model of Spuul.

On the revenue front, it focusses largely on subscriptions from the user and has deliberately held back from banner advertising on the platform. Mr Vaidya claims that Spuul is making conscious efforts to ensure that there are no banner ads and the consumer is able to enjoy an uninterrupted experience. “We have very limited amount of advertising on the platform when users are streaming a movie. We want to concentrate on a great user experience which will create a loyal consumer base for us,” he added.

The emergence of a large number of video platforms making their way into the Indian market has forced players to up their technological game in order to stand competition in the market. Spuul in sync with the market practices has launched options such as progressive download, offline sync which allows the user to download a movie and watch it 72 hours later. “We also have adaptive bitrate where the platform detects 2G connectivity and passes a lower bitrate so that the user can enjoy seamless experience without buffering,” Mr Vaidya explained.

Going forward, Spuul will be seen launching an updated version of its app in a month in bid to improve the user experience and will be launching its own content towards next year. Mr Vaidya forecasts maximum consumption of content taking place in India but developed countries make a better case for subscription based viewing.