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Sony plans to make online platforms fee-based

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Multi Screen Media, that operates Sony channels, is betting big on original content for its web version and mobile-based channel, Sony LIV and plans to make these offerings fee-based.

The channel will also roll out its first web series on September 7.

“The idea is to move to a fee-based subscription model over a period of time and see what content can be monetised with advertising and what content can be charged to the customer.

“We will have a combination of these two models going forward,” Multi Screen Media executive vice-president and digital platform head Uday Sodhi told PTI.

He also said that mobile video segment is the fastest growing segment in the digital space in domestic market.

“There are enough consumers out there and given the penetration of smartphones and improved bandwidth, we believe digital is now big enough for video consumption,” Sodhi added.

On the proposed first web series, to be named Love Bytes, with original content, to be launched from September 7, he said Sony, already one of the leaders in the digital content business, is working on to bring in more original content apart from looking at bringing in made-for-digital content.

“We are launching one show in September and then a couple more by December. These are normally going to be 2-3 months kind of shows,” he said, adding that the objective is to look at short-films and web shows on a regular basis.

The digital advertising market is estimated to be around Rs 4,000 crore and is growing at 35-40 per cent.

As per estimates, online video viewership in the country has nearly doubled between 2011 and 2013 and the digital video subscription market is estimated to be around Rs 4,000 crore by 2020.

Sodhi said youth primarily consumes content on the go and Sony is targeting a larger audience with digital platform.

Launched in 2013, Sony LIV has a reach of about 25 million on a monthly basis across its app, website, YouTube channel and other partnerships.

“We are broad-basing our audience. Currently, most of our audience views Sony LIV as a means of catching up some of the stuff that they have missed on television. We are now offering them original content which they can view on digital,” Sodhi said.

According to a Ficci-KPMG report, India is expected to have 500 million Internet users by 2017, out of which 382 million would be smartphone users, 70 per cent whom would be 3G/4G customers.

“We’ll experiment with multiple formats, multiple contents. We will start with the youth and then bring in more focused content for different regions,” he said.

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