People in the US of A have so many conveniences on the web – TV listing guides for example. A nice one happens to be Yahoo!’s own Yahoo! TV, which apart from coming with the backing of Yahoo! happens to have loads of cool stuff the ability to watch full shows online, special previews, programme details archives, alerts and whatnot.
In India though, things are disgraceful. Among the major dailies, Hindustan Times is as worst as it gets as far as it gets – because they keep on dropping channels at their whim out of a tiny list in the first place, give wrong listings half of the time, and on the whole, make a big mess out of things. The Times of India is marginally better, because they do list more channels and are consistent with their list, but use tiny font, and spend too much space promoting their own network channels Times Now and Zoom (both pathetic).
Online though, things are even worse. Times Groups own site tvguide.indiatimes.com is little more than glorified ad space with its own subdomain, because they hardly have anything in their TV Listings section most of the time.
Guess what? I did find one finally though, via our TV set top box’s programme guide feature (which seen for only one month after the launch of CAS in Delhi, about a year ago). More like remembered it now. It’s called ZipAZap.com.
My rating of ZipAZap.com: 7.6 / 10
I was so…overwhelmed with joy at finally getting to see a site which *ACTUALLY* had Indian TV channel listings that I gave it a standing ovation. Never before have I seen an *Indian* website which is this useful, and most importantly, up-to-date with the data you need. At the very first glance, you’ll find that they keep listings for most major channels on India airwaves; but you’ll find hard not to notice a bias towards the English channels. I guess that’s inevitable, because:
- English channels do tend to have more *defined* programme schedules than their Hindi counterparts.
- It’s a bloody English-based web, duh! Until vernacular browsing becomes a reality (and maybe not even then), ZipAZap seriously has no market model for anything else.
Anyway, how do I care, because I prefer English channels any day. You have a multi-channel grid, or a single channel list. You can skip through data for up to a week in advance, although that type of data is best accurately given for English movie channels. Each programme might also have a content type information, rating information (viewer and / or censor board), and show description which can be viewed by clicking on the name of the show.
Loads of more stuff in case you go in for a paid subscription – like email alerts, SMS alerts, more custom searches and arrangement; and full access via their mobile site wap.zipazap.com. Now in case you’re a free user, you can log in as a guest on their WAP site, but you don’t get to choose channels, only get to see a default list. Suits me perfectly fine, because they mostly contain English movie channels.
Talking about paid subscriptions, they’ve got this weird system where you can have a full trial for 100 days, and then, a ‘laid-back’ sorta trial for one year before you need to cough up dough. The one year trial thingy is pretty good for most users though, because it does have most of the stuff you might want. However, I wouldn’t really mind paying for the service, after all that it offers.
Site layout is fine, but it could have been a bit better. Also, I sorely missed the fact that they’ve hardly any information about themselves – couch potatoes happen to be a tightly knit group who understand each others’ feelings, and a nice story on how some chap sitting channel surfing one day and decided to start this site would have been a nice story. Instead, we get to read its features on that page.
They also have a blog – zipazap.blogspot.com – which I think is a bit lame, hosting it on Blogger when they could’ve easily gone in for publishing via FTP in Blogger, or use WordPress on their own system. The blog is a big disappointment, because once again, instead of trying to be a candid account by the ZipAZap team which people would’ve liked, they’ve spent time only to give official product pitches for their service. We get it, dudes, we know your site is cool – now could you please try to bond with your audience a bit? It’s as if they heard two disconnected words ‘blogs’ and ‘viral marketing’ some day, and decided it was a bright idea to sell their stuff without understanding what it takes. As an aside, loads of company blogs suffer from this.
Overall, ZipAZap is a nice useful service – especially because there’s no competitor to speak of (or which I know).