Update: The company today clarified that Star India has launched two channels on partner Apalya’s Mobile TV application while its own mobile TV application is not yet live.
Star India seems to have jumped the gun when it announced two more of its channels – Star One (Hindi) and Star Vijay (Tamil) are available on mobile TV. Star is simultaneously working on bringing Star Player, its online video streaming portal, onto the mobile in the form of an application. This is still undergoing trials and will be live in a few weeks.
Apalya Adds More Operators As Partners
Apalya (MiMobiTV) already offers Star News, Star Majha and Star Ananda on mobile television. It powered mobile TV for a select bunch of operators: Aircel in Tamil Nadu, Vodafone, MTNL (Delhi), Idea Cellular as Idea TV, BSNL’s 3G Network and Tata Indicom. With this launch, it has added more operators – Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Communications and BSNL’s existing 2G network. Apalya offers more than 60 channels in all. It recently partnered with UTV New Media to launch [email protected] on mobile.
Access & Pricing
The mobile TV application by Apalya is not generic across operators – it is called Idea TV, MYTV for BSNL, VodafoneTV etc. Pricing and access also vary according to operator. Users are not charged for GPRS usage on mobile TV.
There are 3 different packages on Airtel Mobile TV:
- Plan 1 -all channels for 1 week – Rs. 40
- Plan 2 -one channel for 1 week – Rs. 15, maximum viewing time of 20 minutes.
- Plan 3- one channel for 1 day – Rs. 10
Unlike BSNL and Idea Cellular, Airtel does not offer a monthly subscription, which in our view is more attractive for consumers. Their monthly offer is Rs. 150 for viewing all channels. Tata Indicom offers it for an expensive Rs. 15 for 5 minutes.
Airtel Mobile TV offers a whopping 67 channels (though some may not be technically TV channels – Popeye Show, MotoGP, Valentine Songs etc ) by Apalya. None of the channels we attempted were telecasting Live, they were around ten minutes behind. The resolution of Zee News on the mobile screen was quite unsatisfactory, even on a high-end handset. Will Mobile TV fail to gain traction due to poor video quality?
New Mobile TV App
Star India is also coming up with its own Mobile TV version of Star Player in a few weeks’ time. “It is functional and the mobile technology has been built but some of the user interface, design has not completed. It is not consumer ready at this point,” Gurtej Sandhu, Senior Vice President, Digital & Information Technology, STAR India told Medianama.
When complete, Star player will be, from an experience perspective, at the level of US-based TV companies, he noted. Wonder what happened to PLUS, a mobile application the company launched in 2007.
Television programs will be streamed with a delay of 3-4 hours. It appears that true mobile integration is taking a while – no producer offers live TV streaming on mobile yet.
With various language shows now being offered through mobile TV, regional and local advertisers seeking to harness new media finally have a platform to grow their brands. “They have been waiting for something like this. There is a keen appetite for ads on mobile TV,” Sandhu said. The company is currently in discussions with Indian mobile operators about monetising it.
It will be free to download but users will have to pay data charges (GPRS rates vary according to operator) while using it. “We have not considered offering paid downloads of videos – from the research we have done, the market is not ready. People are not used to paying for downloads with the likes of YouTube available,” he added.
WAP Site First
The Mobile TV app will be preceded by the launch of StarTV.in‘s mobile Internet site. The WAP site will be launched in a month. If it offers program schedules, downloads, a link to the application, and contests, etc, the WAP site could be a good base to launch mobile TV.