SPH to launch free interactive Web TV - Feb 23, 2008 (BT)

BackFeb 23, 2008

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

SPH to launch free interactive Web TV

SPH's latest digital initiative, called The Straits Times Razor TV, will be launched by July.

By Ong Boon Kiat
Feb 23, 2008
The Business Times

MEDIA group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) yesterday announced its latest digital initiative - a free interactive English Web TV service called The Straits Times Razor TV, which will be launched by July.

Delivering a combination of live and on-demand video content, the service is aimed at Web-savvy teenagers and adults. It will offer news, lifestyle, entertainment, sports and current affairs programmes as well as user-generated content delivered over the Internet on a dedicated SPH website.

'Young', 'hip', 'hyper-local', 'sharp', 'edgy' and 'informal' were among the words used by SPH chairman Tony Tan to describe the flavour of Razor TV at its launch yesterday. He said that Razor TV will have a presentation style that will be in tune with the culture of the Internet.

'We are keeping pace with the latest online developments and creating an exciting interactive environment across the print, mobile and Internet platforms,' Dr Tan said.

Further adding to the Razor TV's appeal will be its incorporation of Web 2.0 elements. For instance, third-party applications could let Razor TV viewers send digital avatars - similar to a feature in popular social networking website Facebook termed 'poking' - to TV presenters to convey how they feel about an ongoing programme.

Dr Tan said that the development of Razor TV underlines SPH's commitment to achieve its vision of becoming more than just a successful print company.

He said that while many news portals have adopted technologies such as podcasts, vodcasts (video podcasts) and RSS (Really Simple Syndication), they have so far not fully leveraged on the highly engaging real-time interactivity to better engage their audience.

'SPH intends to be among the first,' he said.

Heading the new Razor TV venture is Felix Soh, SPH's digital media editor for the English and Malay Newspaper Division. He believes the combination of programming flexibility and viewer interactivity will make Razor TV a hit among viewers. For instance, viewers will be able to make video calls to presenters on some programmes.

At launch, Razor TV is likely to feature an 8-hour daily programming format, Mr Soh said. Over time, programming hours could be extended to become round-the-clock.

He added that third-party software developers will help grow the Razor TV website over time. They will be invited to create applications that can run on an SPH-developed open programming platform. This will be akin to the open application development ecosystem found in Facebook.

On Razor TV's viewership expectations, Mr Soh said he is aiming for 'a couple of million' pageviews a year after launch. Revenue is expected to come from a combination of Web-based and TV commercial advertising.

Pageview, which measures the number of times a Web page has been viewed by its visitors, is used to measure the popularity of a website. Last month, SPH portals Stomp and AsiaOne, and the online version of The Straits Times, posted total pageviews of 10.5 million, 10.1 million and 8.8 million respectively - corresponding to growth rates of 30 per cent, 50 per cent and 35 per cent since the beginning of SPH's financial year in September.

Razor TV will be produced from SPH's new Multimedia Centre, which was officially opened yesterday. Located at SPH's premises in Toa Payoh North, the Centre now houses SPH's English-language digital operations under one roof. They are SPH's news portals AsiaOne and Stomp, as well as the Razor TV team.

An Innovation Laboratory will be added to the Centre soon to develop new media delivery ideas and technologies.