After launching a library of music videos under its UTV@Play banner, UTV New Media will begin streaming its business news channel UTVi in the next 10 days on mobiles. The streaming will be delayed by one minute, so is not technically “live”. It will follow it up with videos of serials on the Mobile TV channel at a later stage, UTV New Media CEO T N Prabhu told MediaNama.
UTV New Media has collaborated with Apalya Technologies for a mobile TV application MiMobiTV. UTV chose not to go solo and launch its own application and will limit its focus to content creation. “Technology can become obsolete very quickly, so we are partnering with a platform provider to ensure that compatibility of handsets is taken care of,” said Prabhu.
Apalya will also ensure that the videos streamed are suitable for both low-end handsets as well as smart phones. On its part, UTV will offer video quality of 25 frames per second but this will change depending on GPRS speeds and device types. “Our format is ready for 3G,” Prabhu said. The screenshots of the service are here.
UTV@Play will be available on all networks except Airtel, which does not permit Mobile TV currently, he said. Airtel is struggling with congestion and a bandwidth squeeze, IBN Live reports. Most operators are clients of MiMobiTV – Idea Cellular, Vodafone, BSNL and MTNL. MiMobiTV powers Mobile TV for BSNL’s 3G network, Tata Indicom in Mumbai, Idea Cellular (as IdeaTV) in Orissa, Aircel in Tamil Nadu and Vodafone Essar, who are offering it as a value added service to draw consumers.
Content: Serials Will Have To Wait
All the content for UTV@Play will come from UTV’s own stables. UTV has 3000 music videos in its catalogue, the majority of which are less than a year old, according to Prabhu. Those being offered on UTV@Play currently are of popular Hindi, English, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bhojpuri and Marathi music videos. Malayalam, Bengali and Gujarati videos are coming up next.
UTV also owns over 20,000 hours worth of serials, most of which are catalog content. Serials such as Tehkikaat, Sea Hawks, Shanti and Mile Sur Mera Tumhara were produced by UTV for Doordarshan in the 90’s are part of this portfolio. Do they still have the magic to draw spectators to smaller screens (mobile screens)?
Explaining that serials like Shanti would have to be divided into segments before offering it in bits as videos and hence entailed a lot of editing, Prabhu said that the company would wait before making the investment in offering serials on Mobile TV. Shanti stretched to six years and over 800 episodes. UTVs portfolio of serials can be viewed here.
Besides these, the company has digital rights to TV shows such as NDTV Imagine’s Ramayan, and has tie ups with music labels such as Speed Records, Movie Box, Times Music (for Singh Is King) and Lahari Media. It has a total of 16,000 songs in seven languages, predominantly regional ones. It owns motion picture content, and videos from its channels UTVi and Bindaas. UTVi is a business news channel while Bindaas is focussed on youth.
Users can subscribe to the music videos for Rs. 10 per day or at Rs. 30 for the entire month. Whether users will have to pay this in addition to their GPRS rates will be the carrier’s choice. So far, only Idea Cellular has opted to exclude Mobile TV from data usage. Even if this price of Mobile TV is right, with only 101.1 million wireless-enabled handsets (not the number who are using GPRS) in India, will it really take off?
With its pan-India launch and a sizable content library, UTV is targetting 12,000 subscribers in the first month for the service. Its timing makes it an early adopter of Mobile TV but will users take to it? Prabhu does not know how the demographics of adoption will play out, he expects to learn who his primary consumers are in the first month.
Updated: Serials that UTV plans to offer on MobileTV are mostly catalog content.
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