The idiot box or the television is still one of the biggest mediums in India for reaching out to the masses. But one of the reasons I stopped watching TV was overload of content and having to watch something that was not to my liking.
Early days and challenges
Back in 2009, Rabi Gupta, Co-Founder at iDubba, witnessed a similar problem and figured out that people don’t watch TV in a random pattern but they do so depending on their taste and preferences. But, due to lack of recommendations and timely alerts, they were missing out on their favourite shows and movies. Realizing this is as a market need, Rabi and his partner in business Ashish Kumar created an app with the initial aim to be an alerts and recommendation provider over the basic layer of a TV guide.
The NCR based startup started their entrepreneurial journey by being bootstrapped but were later plucked by the Morpheus accelerator program. Even though they had able support from the accelerator, the television world was not ready to adopt to such changes.
“Our initial objective was to build additional useful content that was missing, along with the free content that is available from the TV providers. And once the additional content was being created, we had to tag them so that users are provided with the right alerts and recommendations. This entire process took us a good two years,” added Rabi, while sharing the initial challenges faced by the startup.
From building content to providing recommendations to iAlerts and gratifying users with rewards for watching TV, iDubba has come a long way. Today the app is no more a utility based app but features like social sharing and Tune In have made it more interesting for users to give iDubba a genuine try.
“Features like Tune In and social sharing are enabling us to provide users Social TV experience in India. Tune In is an attempt to capture the interests of a TV viewer and social sharing is sharing the content with your community with a control in your hands,” shared Rabi.
Social TV and iDubba
Social TV has its own set of challenges in our country and Rabi who has been interacting with the TV business for a pretty good time is well aware. So the startup has approached the Social TV experience in a way that matches the traits of television users.
“People generally love to talk about TV shows and so we thought of involving like minded users to chat about a certain show in a chat room. And hence iCouch app has been recently introduced on Android platform,” added Rabi.
iCouch, which was launched last week while partnering with Zee Cafe promises to be more than a chat. The app provides complete control to the TV channel partners, complete branding to TV partners, ability to engage with users via contests while watching the TV shows.
But then Twitter has also adopted a similar roadmap in India - a gradual process to become the second screen for the Indian TV viewers. Rabi is clearly aware that iDubba is up against a big giant but he has concerns with Twitter’s perusal to become the second screen in India. He believes,
[pullquote id = “lhipull” class = “centre_lhi”]Twitter has its own challenges – there is no control over discussions and the lack of analytics. Most of the TV channels today have realized this problem and they are ready to try out much more customized and tailored apps like iCouch.[/pullquote]
iCouch, which has been rolled out with the popular Grey’s Anatomy latest season, plans to integrate with two to three shows in a day. However, Rabi was candid in sharing that convincing channel management that it is not the same app like every channel has, is the tough task!
Social media and the road ahead
Talking on the marketing aspect, I was happy to know that their blog has been the biggest source for driving traffic.
“Our blog today has been our biggest traffic driver and we get the maximum traffic from it even though we haven’t had great numbers of fans or followers. Additionally, we have tried engaging with people on Twitter,” shared Rabi, while discussing on how social media has helped them as a startup.
Talking about the road ahead, Rabi has some very interesting plans stacked in his mind. One of the features he has been pondering for a while is changing channels from within the app based on one’s interests. Ideas like this are being carried out in developed countries and Rabi dreams of implementing features that are provided by social TV apps like IntoNow and Shazam.
“Technically things are possible in India but before that the mentality of TV channels should change in the country and should be ready to evolve,” summed the optimistic entrepreneur.