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One of the most dreaded things about taking a four- or five-hour bus ride from Metro Manila to Baguio or other parts of the north or south is not knowing how to pass the time.
Sure, there are books to read, work to catch up on — but if you are on a vacation, perhaps watching your favorite TV show or movie would be a nicer treat!
So, to help remove the boredom from trips to the City of Pines, there’s a new streaming platform in the country, POPTV, that gives you access to watch movies and series absolutely for free while aboard a Pangasinan Solid North bus bound for Baguio City.
The good news is that POPTV will begin its rollout in the second quarter of 2022 for buses in Metro Manila, too. So riding to and from work will become a joy ride, so to speak, by keeping up with your fave streamed TV shows just a click away.
We spoke to POPTV CEO Jyotirmoy Saha and COO Jackeline Chua. Read on as they share with us how much more POPTV has in store for us commuters.
PHILIPPINE STAR: When did you decide there was a need for PopTV ph., a streaming service for commuters that does not require data or Wi-Fi?
JYOTIRMOY SAHA, CEO: We are essentially a content company. For over a decade we have been creating content for kids and youth that is distributed in over 140 countries. Our work is also critically acclaimed and we have been recipients of dozens of international awards and nominations, including an Emmy last year. POPTV is our way of trying to build a relationship with and reach content directly with the end consumer. It was also our observation that in many large, emerging countries there are not enough locally relevant services. It is our belief that in the years to come every major content consumption market will settle with about 10-12 niche and general content platforms – just like cable TV. The only difference will be delivery technology. Consumer behavior towards what they want to watch isn’t going to dramatically change for a long time.
When we chose the Philippines as our starting market, we obviously had to cater to specific market needs. This is a market that has high data costs, relatively poor quality of mobile data connectivity, and a few other unique features. Also, buses carried more than one half billion passengers per year prior to the pandemic. We developed technologies that deliver a great digital video experience even in offline scenarios. It was therefore a product fit that we found relevant.
Do you think that there will be a lot of subscribers to the service, considering that one can view short clips on YouTube for free while on the ride home?
Currently, our offering is designed for those who spend more than two hours on the bus. While, theoretically, they have access to anything and everything on the internet (including YouTube), the quality of connectivity, data consumption, and device battery life are major considerations for most users. Besides the kind of content that we are making available on the service is not the usual fare you can find on YouTube. These include the latest movies, K-drama, anime, and much more — that, too, from a choice of hundreds of titles at the very least. The majority of the service is to be made available for no additional cost to the passenger at all. So there is no subscription price barrier either.
We plan to extend this service to ferries, too, where passengers often spend long durations of time without any form of internet connection at all.
We notice there is an interesting compilation of videos on demand. How were the initial movies on POPTV chosen?
Digital video is merely a different technology principle through which one can conveniently deliver large volumes of high-quality video. Users, on the other hand, haven’t really changed much. We still like the same kind of content and stories. Initially, it was easy to make a choice based on the above assumption.
But once you have a certain number of people already on board, the analytics make it even easier to precisely target certain kinds of content towards specific users. In fact, to a large extent, we are even able to predict what kind of titles our users would like. Data-driven choices with a pinch of market feel is how we decide what content we bring to POPTV.
How has the response been so far?
JACKELINE CHUA, COO: We recently launched the POPTV and bus company partnership. The response so far has been extremely encouraging. Passengers have been using the service both regularly and for almost the entire journey. The welcome journey to the app has also proved to be successful.
Is downloading POPTV easily understood and done quickly?
Yes, POPTV is a user-friendly app, it can be downloaded from Google Play (Android), App Store (iOS), AppGallery (Huawei), and Galaxy Store (Samsung). We expect to release versions for Android TV and a couple of other platforms, too, later this year for iPhone. As long as the POP TV app is installed on one’s mobile phone, the moment one hops on the bus and connects to the POPTV WIFI access point with a password, a myriad of entertainment is at hand. Mobile app users can enjoy POPTV even without WIFI or data while they are on the bus.
What is the guarantee that the service will be smooth and uninterrupted? Because Wi-Fi and even data connections services can be interrupted if a dead spot is entered.
The big differentiator of our service is that technology has been designed to take care of and exactly cater to those kinds of issues. Dead spots or slow speeds of data do not matter as the smart-caching tech we employ pre-predicts the demand for content and brings it closer to the passengers.
What would you consider the biggest advantage of POP TV over other “free” streaming services?
The technology we are bringing in and the UI (user interface design)/UX (user experience design) of our app is also something we are proud of. We are a technology company first and foremost and I think it will always be our main advantage. We don’t just focus on enhancing content, our main drive is the continuous improvement of technology and user experience.
These are interesting times, indeed. The new normal is here and Pinoy commuters can only benefit from this.
“POPTV continues to challenge the way Filipinos use streaming services. That is why we didn't just stop at offering affordable and quality entertainment, we also looked into access and how we can make the experience more convenient for everyone,” added Chua. “So this device that we are pioneering in the Philippines will allow bus passengers to use our service and watch our content for free while in transit.”
To use this service, passengers must first download and install a POPTV app on their smartphones. Once inside the bus, turn on the Wi-Fi and connect to either POPTV1 or POPTV2. Type in the password (poptvpinas), open the POPTV app and start streaming movies and series.
Among the top titles currently available for streaming on POPTV are recent blockbuster titles Open from ABS-CBN Films and Write About Love from TBA Studios. POPTV is also the only streaming app currently offering Filipino-dubbed versions of K-dramas Mouse and Dr. Romantic 2, animes Jujutsu Kaisen and Horimiya, BL series SOTUS, Great Men Academy, and I Told Sunset About You, Korean movies A Werewolf Boy, Spellbound and Miss Granny, and lastly, Thai movies Love and Run, Sunset at Chaopraya and My Rhythm.
POPTV also offers free kids content via POPTV Kids where Filipino kids can watch Filipino-dubbed pre-school and kids shows like Tish Tash, Journey of Long and George of the Jungle.
To download the POPTV app, just search for POPTV PINAS on Google Play, Huawei App Gallery, Apple App Store, and Samsung Galaxy Store. First-time users will get a 3-day free trial and may opt to subscribe afterwards for 2 days for only P20, 10 days for only P49, 30 days for only P99, and for half a year for only P300 to get full access to POPTV’s library of local content (blockbusters, indie and classics) and Filipino-dubbed Pinoy foreign favorites (K-dramas, animes, BL series, Asian movies, and more).
POPTV subscriptions can be purchased via load deduction through SMART or Google Pay; or may be transacted via credit/debit card or GCash app. It is also available on Shopee, Lazada, all branches of M Lhuillier, USSC, and RD Pawnshops nationwide, and in sari-sari stores in key cities in Luzon.
Yes, the app is really easy to download. I tried it on my cell phone and I was not disappointed. It was ready to use, easily installed — and got me hooked at first click.
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Editor’s Note: BrandedUp is designed to provide you with insightful, inspiring and educational content created by PhilSTAR L!fe in collaboration with brands like POPTV.