Reliance ADAG’s BIG 92.7 FM has partnered with VAS company OnMobile for it’s platform mRadio to launch BIG Mobile Radio, which offering people a chance to listen to their favourite RJ and local radio station. “This is live streaming radio on mobile networks, not retransmission of the radio’s channels,” explained OnMobile CEO Arvind Rao. The reason lies in the way licenses are given to radio stations: they are specific to city, and from what we gather, it isn’t among the license conditions to retransmit a radio channel in more than one city, in its entirety. So how have OnMobile and BIG FM dealt with this problem?

Ad Free Radio & Music Rights

It’s a gray area when it comes to music rights on mobile: no one entity involved in the agreement owns all the music rights. “Mobile rights to music are given by content aggregators: usually operators have the licenses,” OnMobile Global’s COO Sanjay Uppal told MediaNama. OnMobile owns some licenses (through the agreements it closed for its mRadio product) and so both the VAS firm and the operators will have a combination of rights that they will use to deliver live music over BIG Mobile Radio.

Radio channels by BIG FM will be ‘specially programmed’. What the radio jockey speaks will be included but all the advertisements and sponsor messages that run on the radio will be removed. The BIG Mobile Radio service will be delivered through a voice portal, and users will have to dial a number and tune into any of the 17 radio stations being provided. mRadio has been deployed by operators in SAARC regions such as Vodafone, Warid, Grameenphone. In India, it is believed to be Spice Digital’s most successful product. Spare a thought for satellite radio service WorldSpace, that spent its last few years in India trying to get the rights to stream it’s content on mobile and the Internet.

Pricing

A combination of subscription and pay per minute model will be used: Rs. 30 subscription for 30 minutes of usage per month. If you exceed this, then you have to pay something like Re.1 per minute. Similarly, there are Rs. 20 and Rs. 10 subscription models too.

Is Mobile Radio Still Going Strong

A few VAS players we’ve spoken to said that it takes a substantial amount of effort to get enough signups to counter the churn in mobile radio segment: also that users may sign up, but it’s not likely that they return. But OnMobile is optimistic. “It (mRadio) is one of the top performing apps we have. Voice portal business is under pressure, but on a monthly basis amongst other voice portal apps, mobile radio is #1,” says Uppal.

Idea Cellular and Geodesic attempted a similar service called Idea Radio a year ago. More recently, Radio Mirchi 98.3FM launched Vodafone Mirchi Caller Tunes, allowing listeners in 32 cities to purchase any of the songs they hear on the radio station as their caller ring back tone (CRBT) on their mobile phones.

Until video (with 3G) arrives, radio can live (reference to the ole song Video Killed The Radio Star – embedded for your hearing pleasure below).

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