BoxTV, a Times Internet service, offers subscription-based on-demand video streaming of movies, TV shows, short films, and premium video content. The service is available in India, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States aimed at Indian users or the Indian diaspora abroad. The service is conceptually similar to Hulu and Netflix in the US and fills a gaping void in India.
At the moment, plans start at just ₹20 with the monthly subscription at a very affordable ₹199 in India, £4.99 in the UK, and $4.99 in the US. You can access BoxTV via web, mobile apps (iOS/Android/Windows Phone), and television boxes like EvoTV, Roku, and Woxi SmartPod. BoxTV has several content partners for Hollywood content and India-focused programming. The list and diversity of partners has been growing since the launch of the service.
I’m a huge movies fan, and like most people, watch a lot of TV series as well. BoxTV was my prayers answered, and I subscribed to the service after getting an alpha-preview invite before launch. I’ve constantly shared feedback with the folks behind BoxTV and got few friends to subscribe to the service as well.
However, in past few months, I find myself questioning the value each month when the credit card transaction alert arrives. Is BoxTV a great idea, but not delivering significant content experience?
BoxTV has a nicely designed Web and mobile experience. It is intuitive, and functional. However, there are two things that don’t work for me.
Most of my online streaming happens while I’m on my desktop or Surface tablet while working at home/office. I watch a lot of video content through the day, and usually end the day with a movie. BoxTV, unfortunately, does not have a Windows 8 app as yet. It’s been too long, really.
All the other video consumption happens for me when I’m taking long cab rides through the day or when I’m travelling. The Windows Phone app is pretty good, but there’s no way to download movies or cache them at home connected to Wi-Fi. Watching a long movie on unreliable 3G is frustrating, and on a long flight, not even an option.
At launch, BoxTV had a huge catalog of Hindi movies and limited English movies. Soon, a few popular TV series like Community, Desperate Housewives, and Lost came about.
From them, apart from bringing Hollywood content to be at par with Bollywood, there hasn’t been an exciting growth. Most of the Hindi movies on BoxTV are available on YouTube for free, legally. The TV shows never got updated with latest seasons, and the collection has been stagnant.
New movies, except for a brilliantly executed ‘Lootera’ (free for a month), never come to BoxTV. I can live with that but the only movies I’m watching on BoxTV are the Hollywood classics, because I end up watching the Hindi movies on YouTube since the apps have a better offline experience. I’ve finished the TV shows, and the catalog isn’t growing.
New content partners like Sony Entertainment and National Geographic haven’t brought about any significant, exclusive video content to the service.
BoxTV is a nice idea, and the execution has been pretty good. I would really like the service to grow, and gain more traction. Meanwhile though, I’m cancelling my subscription, till they make a little headway towards the issues I mentioned. I didn’t watch a video on BoxTV the entire last month, but watched a lot of TV (TataSky), DVDs, and YouTube. Something at BoxTV has to correct that.