Tuesday, February 17, 2015

At 25 mn, Indo-Pak match viewership creates history

When India beat Pakistan in its first cricket match of the ICC World Cup 2015, in Adelaide on Sunday, the team created history in more ways than one. First, it maintained its unbeaten World Cup record against its arch-rivals. And second, the match recorded a little more than 25 million views on the digital platform in India — one of the highest for a single game in a sporting event across the globe in one country  — according to data from STAR India, the official broadcaster. No other spots event — including premier American football event Super Bowl or Wimbledon tennis — is anywhere close to that figure.

STAR India Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Gupta said: “We got 25 million views on two of our digital platforms — Hotstar and STAR Sports — with an average duration of 10-12 minutes. We believe this was the biggest number of views on the digital platform ever for a single match, much more than the five million the Super Bowl in the US had received.”  The new application Hotstar, launched on February 1, hit five million downloads in the last fortnight.

According to Adobe Prime that tracks digital platforms in the US, the National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl at its peak on February 1 had five million unique online views on NBC Sports Live Extra, the digital platform of NBC. NFL Mobile from Verizon, a smartphone platform, had 1.3 million viewers, according to US magazines. Data from Wimbeldon show in 2014 about 1.3 million people saw Wimbeldon live on its digital platform, Wimbeldon TV, while BBC had 12.7 million video requests on its online platforms in the entire championship.

Besides, STAR India is for the first time telecasting the ICC World Cup in six languages — English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. Based on trends, the broadcaster is expecting about 40-45 per cent of the viewership to come from the regional language feeds, representing a fundamental shift that will affect sports advertising as well. While English will account for a fourth of the viewership, the rest will be from Hindi. This ratio was 70 per cent for Hindi and 30 per cent for English in the previous World Cup. STAR estimates about 300 million viewers were glued to the match between India and Pakistan.

A few years ago, sports broadcasting was limited to English, Gupta said. But with an expansion of the regional market, advertisers with smaller ticket sizes have come in. “As rates are lower, advertisers require smaller ticket sizes, so the number of advertisers is going up. For instance, in the previous World Cup, we had 100 advertisers. This year, we have double that number. So, it does not impact overall revenues,” said Gupta.

STAR India said the huge number of online views for the India-Pakistan match reflected a shift from television to mobile devices and computers. According to Gupta, every show of Diya Aur Baati Hum, one of STAR Plus’s top serials, attracts 40-45 million TV viewers. That is close to the 25 million viewers of the India-Pakistan match. “By next year, with 4G LTE and growth of data, we could see dramatic changes in how the Indian Premier League (IPL) is watched, for instance,” added Gupta.

STAR India, which recently bought the digital rights for IPL, said there were 60 million video views during the 60 matches last year. This would change dramatically this year with the launch of STAR’s new application Hotstar.

Hotstar has been built to work on lower bandwidth, a key problem faced by Indian consumers, especially on their mobile phones. For instance, it is built to operate on speeds as low as 64 Kbps, and ideally on speeds of 128 Kbps. To resolve the issue of connectivity, on unstable 3G services, common in India, the application is optimised to reduce the quality of the picture rather than having to open the video again.

Hotstar, to also show all STAR channels’ programming, is free. The reason: STAR executives said there was no stable payment mechanism in the country available to handle so many views and consumers.

Advertisers acknowledge the shift in viewership.  Said  Saurabh Baisakhiya, business head (air-conditioners), LG Electronics, a prominent national advertiser and an ICC Cricket sponsor: “Time today is spent most on mobile screens than TV screens. At present, our digital spends are about 8-10 per cent of our total ad and marketing budget. We see this going up to 15 per cent in the next few years.”  R S Sodhi, managing director, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, owner of Amul, one of the largest consumer goods brands in India, said the medium digital attracted the youth who have the purchasing power. That is why the company is looking at increasing its digital advertising budget to around 10 per cent in a few years from two-three per cent currently.

Madhu Dutta, marketing head (lifestyle business), Raymond, on-air sponsor of the on-going cricket World Cup, said, “Undoubtedly, Hotstar has stolen the show. Smaller screens are dominating the market today. It is clear the customer is living in the digital age.” 

Regional brands are also bullish on STAR’s regional push. Said Parag Desai, executive director, Wagh Bakri Tea Group, the largest brand in its sector in Gujarat, “There is a large market of regional advertisers in the country. So the idea of regional feeds for big properties is a good idea. But the challenge here is pricing that has to be reasonable.”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Ultimate Winter Checklist for your Hair!

Here’s your ultimate winter beauty checklist that will make sure you have that lustrous mane you’ve been dying for.

Intense Moisturizing

The best way to keep your hair shiny and glossy during winters is to switch your regular conditioner to an intense conditioner meant for dry hair. During winter, the natural oils that keep your hair moisturized get sapped easily, and leave your hair dry and frizzy. Giving it that extra moisture is only going to help, so do get it without a second thought.

Quality Products

Winter or not, make sure you always use quality products for your hair and skin. Don’t be lured by new shampoos and conditioners arriving in the market- changing the hair care products you use too often can actually cause damage to your hair. Instead, stick to the products that you know your hair loves, especially if you have dry hair that is more prone to damage and breaks easily.

Hair Trimming

The benefits of regular trimming are severely underrated. Not only does trimming help keep split ends at bay, but it also helps maintain your hair and keeps it glossy and shiny. In fact, it is also believed that trimming every 6-8 weeks can help improve hair growth and enhances the natural beauty of your hair by getting rid of the damaged hair.

Occasional Oiling

Your scalp health says a lot about your hair health and vice vera, and during winters, make sure you give that little extra pampering to your scalp, which is vulnerable to drying out. Choose from almond oil, argan oil and coconut oil and give yourself a nice head massage atleast once a week. These oils can actually give your scalp and hair roots the nutrients they need to keep your hair shiny and glossy.

Get Wise

Be it summers or winters, one hair care tip you should live by is to use lukewarm water while rinsing your hair. You may love going for a hot water bath during the chilly winters, but it will only leave your hair frizzy and unmanageable. Instead, use hot water for your body bath and choose lukewarm water to wash your hair. Limiting the number of times you have a head bath is also believed to be helpful during winters.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

K-pop singer takes back accusations of abuse

Moon Joon-young, the leader of K-pop boy band ZE:A, on Monday took back his fiery criticisms of his agency's alleged exploitation of its singers, but fans remained sceptical of the "reconciliation."

The 25-year-old singer wrote on his Twitter Monday morning that he had an all-night talk the day before with Shin Ju-hak, the chief executive of Star Empire Entertainment Co., "as the final ultimatum." He posted an official apology "for causing controversy, which was straightened out after a candid face-to-face talk with the CEO."
The entertainment label also released an official statement, claiming Moon and Shin had "unraveled all the misunderstandings and conflicts in a cordial manner."

But the news did not convince online critics, with sceptical comments heating up news sites and online community bulletin boards.

"Talk of reconciliation. A bucket of lies (fnal****)."

"Don't you think it's strange? (snai****)."

"If it was such an easy problem, why have they waited so long to reconcile? This has been a longtime issue (vijd****)."

Some blamed Moon for quickly revoking his claims.

In recent years, the abuse controversy involving K-pop stars and their agencies has gained public attention, with a series of legal actions by globally popular singers. The three former members of TVXQ, now JYJ, Hankyung of Super Junior and Kris of EXO have taken legal action against S.M. Entertainment over common issues of maltreatment, hectic work schedules and scarce income.

Moon's Twitter manifesto also addressed these three key issues in detail.

1. Sunday morning: "I want to live like a human being, like a man."

The scandal surfaced on Sunday morning, when the distressed ZE:A leader voiced allegations of an inhumanly tight schedule and unfair distribution of income.

Moon wrote on his Twitter, "I am determined to speak out my heart, the world as I see it, and the life I live in tears. I mean to share them all with the public. I ask for support from the journalists.

"I will not bypass the injustice. I regret having been silent -- All I got in return was insults and depression that have imprisoned me."

He directly targeted the CEO of his agency, a daring move for an idol star in Korea.

"I believe a true leader, owner and ruler must heed to the cry of (his people) … I will show how tears can turn into fury. This is no joke. If my Twitter account disappears or I become silent, that will be the evidence of the pressure from those with power to do so.

"For the first time, I ask the world: CEO Shin Ju-hak of Star Empire Entertainment, do you think you are immune to this? … In tears I asked you not to cross the line, but you did. Now it is yours to handle this. I blew my top. I have been through everything, from circular hair loss to melancholia."

Later when these statements disappeared from the singer's Twitter, Moon's agency said the singer voluntarily deleted them.

2. Sunday evening: "CEO gets 70 per cent of the profit, members get 3.33 per cent each."

After voicing, then erasing, his words on Twitter, he posted criticism of the agency's unfair distribution of profit.

"A couple hours till the promised 24-hour. We should not have more victims, including ZE:A… Why should we be oppressed for loving to sing? Here, people without money become the sinners and those with money becomes the winners… I want to show young aspiring singers that this world is about being fabulous on the surface but financially poor in reality… They remain silent, not because they do not wish to, but because they cannot speak. Money mutes us."

The singer claimed that ZE:A's exclusive contract with Star Empire, approved by the Fair Trade Commission, has "the company and the nine-member band split the profit by a 7:3 ratio." For every 1 million won earned, Shin takes 700,000 won and ZE:A members divide the remaining 300,000 won by nine -- roughly 33,333 won for each member.

ZE:A's exclusive contract is effective for nine years, which includes the two-year military service term.

"I have given Star Empire my youth, teens and 20s. The housing is in such bad condition that I bumped into (a hard object) and hurt my face while going to the restroom at night. Once they sent me to KBS' sports entertainment show 'Dream Team' only a week before the comeback stage for 'Aftermath.' I broke my leg (in the show,) and had to tell people that I hurt my leg in dance practice instead.

"The world is all about money. The entertainment scene that I have experienced is even more so, and the mass communication outlets distort the news to the point that we think of committing suicide," he added.

"I am going to have a final word with president Shin Ju-hak. Please wait for me. Please do not delete (my case) from the portal's most frequently searched words."

3. Monday morning: "I saw President Shin apologise with tears in his eyes... but I know things may be much worse in some entertainment agencies."

Moon ended the dispute with his agency by posting an apology and a briefing of the talks between himself and Shin. He said the CEO offered a tearful apology in front of eight ZE:A members. Siwan is currently away for an outside schedule.

With a complete about-face in opinion, he wrote, "First of all, I apologise for triggering the controversy. We finished the talk just now and I am grateful that he accepted my feelings, which are all straightened for good.

"This is what I wanted to show. A CEO being chastised by the fans and the public. But now that the dispute has ended, it all comes down to a petty family fight… But I know things may be much worse at other entertainment agencies. I do not want Mr. Shin to stick out as a scapegoat. Guilty agencies need no accuser."

4. Aftermath

While Moon and Star Empire have seemingly reconciled, online critics argued that the agency has a history of mistreating its singers.

Another round of fresh criticisms were directed toward Shin later on Monday, after a critic posted a video clip of the Star Empire Entertainment chief slapping a female singer's face with a roll of documents. The singer turned out to be Sera, a former member of Star Empire's girl group Nine Muses. The movie clip later turned out to be a part of a documentary on K-pop artists, aired on British broadcaster BBC.