Apr 172012

Vibble TV will soon join the likes of Mela, BollyVerse, Databazaar, ChannelLive and Yupp that are targeting American desis with Bollywood movies and live Indian TV channels streamed online.

Vibble TV Coming Soon

A service offering of Columbia (MD) based media startup Internet Broadcasting Corp (IBC), Vibble TV is set to go live in May.

The plan is to offer the Indian content on multiple devices including smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs.

Besides the large Indian diaspora, Nepalis, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans are also avid watchers of Bollywood movies in the U.S.

Just the other day, we met a Bangladeshi waitress in a NYC bar who told us her favorite Bollywood hero was Hrithik Roshan.

Severe Competition

IBC promises that the Vibble TV subscription pricing will be at least 20% lower than existing providers.

Given that some players like Mela currently offer their Bollywood and regional language movie services at $4.99 a month, we wonder how Vibble can be commercially viable at $4 a month.

Bollywood content is not cheap and signing up Indian subscribers in the U.S. is a difficult exercise given the severe competition that includes not merely the Indian startups but Netflix as well.

Netflix is the 800-pound gorilla of the movie streaming market in the U.S. with tons of movies including some Hindi and Tamil films.

Plus there’s the scourge of pirated content that cheapo Indians love to download and watch for free.

Meanwhile, IBC, the brainchild of Indian entrepreneur Suresh Kadagala, has filed a statement with the SEC that it’s raising $2 million to fund its operations.

In the filing, IBC said it had already raised $500,000.

Spuul Wades into Crowded Bollywood Streaming Pool with Free & Paid Rentals

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Apr 112012

Uh oh, not one more.

The Bollywood streaming business is looking increasingly crowded lately in the U.S.

Besides the 800-pound Goliath Netflix (peddles Bollywood, Hollywood and other content), there’s BollyVerse, Databazaar, YuppTV, ChannelLive, Mela and a bunch of regional language offerings for desis in Amreeka.

As if all that weren’t enough, now comes a new Hindi movie streaming service called Spuul with a combination of free and paid rentals and a worldwide footprint.

Spuul rolled out its service Tuesday.

Spuul Launches Bollywood Movie Streaming Service

Spuul’s paid rentals come in two flavors – a $4.99 per month subscription and a 99-cent pay-per-movie offering.

Spuul also relies on ads to support its service.

To watch the free movies on Spuul, users must log in via their Facebook account. Here’s the catch – you must allow Spuul to post on your behalf, including status updates, photos and more; Access your custom friend lists; and Access your profile data.

Well, we guess there’s no Free lunch in life and Free extracts its price one way or the other.

But what’s worse is that even the premium paid options require users to log in via Facebook.

That is nonsense.

Spuul must allow users who wish to join their paid premium service to sign up without the Facebook hassle.

That’s what Netflix, Mela and many others do. And that’s the right way for paid premium services.

How Does Spuul Work

Spuul is supposed to work on both PC/laptop and TV (via Apple AirPort or Roku).

We couldn’t get it to work on TV via the Roku set-top box because we didn’t even see Spuul in our Roku channel list. Perhaps, it’s still in the works.

Au contraire, other Indian movie/TV channels like Mela, BollyVerse, Databazaar, ChannelLive, Yupp etc are already available on Roku.

On the PC, we got an error message when trying to watch Khalnayaak, a ‘free’ movie (we’d set our Facebook setting to let Spuul access only our profile data).

Here’s the error message we got on the PC while trying to access a Spuul “Free” movie:

Error 400 Bad Request

Bad Request
Guru Meditation:

XID: 1107080120

Varnish cache server

Will Spuul Succeed?

We remain skeptical that Spuul can make much headway on the paid subscription side, at least in the U.S.

A lot of Indians are notorious thieves, preferring to illegally download movies or rent pirated DVDs of new releases from their neighborhood desi grocery stores in the U.S.

Content piracy is very high in India and we have no reason to believe Indians in the U.S. are any different from their brothers, sisters and friends in the homeland.

Plus, Spuul suffers from a big drawback.

It offers only Hindi movies while rival services like Mela offer Tamil, Telugu and other regional language films for $4.99 per month. But Mela doesn’t offer a free option.

Netflix offers a $7.99 per month streaming service with tons of content (no commercials) but only a limited number of Bollywood movies.

Spuul – Future Plans

Spuul plans to launch an app on Apple’s AppStore to let users view movie on their iPad tablets and iPhones.

The app will let users start watching on one device (for instance, a TV), pause and resume on another (iPhone or iPad).

S.Mohan (founder of Palo Alto-based Accellion and other technology companies) and media entrepreneur Sudesh Iyer are the founders of Spuul.