Intel Capital funded Verismo Networks, which enables video and broadband content delivery on TV for OEMs and MSOs, has launched Mela, a global multi-platform consumer entertainment service with premium South Asian video content. The service will offer consumers live television channels covering news and entertainment, Bollywood and regional movies, with an including selected ones in high-definition, and selected premium videos from the Internet, split into different categories.
According to the company, the service will target expatriate South Asian community and after the initial launch in the United States, it will be extended to other regions of the World in a phased manner starting later this year. It will be offered through a high-definition set-top-box developed by Mela’s parent company, Verismo Networks. However, the company intends to later roll out the service on all major platforms including PC, mobile phones and devices, video game consoles, Internet connected televisions, Internet connected Blu-ray players, and other popular devices and set-top boxes.
In addition to 40 live television channels covering news and entertainment, including channels in Tamil and Telugu languages, Mela claims that its on-demand movie offering at launch will also include over 250 titles in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil languages. It intends to expand its movie library to 500+ titles, in a few months of its initial launch. The company says that it has tied up with over a dozen content providers at launch, including Yash Raj Films, Eros International, ETV Network, Shemaroo Entertainment, Times Global Broadcasting, Raj Television Network, Maa Television Network and Jaya TV.
While regional live television channel packages in Tamil and Telugu languages will each be available for $9.99 per month, two premium channels in each of Tamil and Telugu language will be available at $14.99 per month per channel. Mela will offer an on-demand movie service at $4.99 per month. It will also offer a a bundled package, wherein forty live tv channels and 500+ movies will be available along with the HD set-top box, for a launch price of $149 for the first year of service.
We knew that the diversification from being a technology player to a content aggregator was on the cards, after Verismo recently launched an entertainment services division with Sab Kanaujia, as President (Entertainment Services). On the looks of it, Mela is essentially an Internet based content service targeted at South Asian expats, however, its extension to other platforms will make a platform agnostic, and give it a wider reach. This might graduate into something close on the lines of NetFlix or Hulu, with South Asian content. No surprises since Kanaujia was a part of the team that incubated Hulu.
Many of the content providers also have tie-ups with video streaming services like YouTube, which offers Indian movies on a rental basis in the US. Although, Mela’s set-top box will also let users browse non-licensed video content from the internet, we don’t know if it will allow access to competing services. The service will compete with Roku based Malayalam IPTV which also offers some Indian content, including in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.