rcomaajtakReliance Communications (RCOM) has inked a content partnership with broadcaster Aaj Tak (by the India Today group) to deliver video news updates to mobile subscribers. The MMS clips will be sent twice a day to the mobile and can be accessed by both its CDMA and GSM users, according to WebNewsWire.

National, International, Business, Sports, Entertainment news in Hindi will be pushed to the inbox and the charge is Rs. 30 per month. This would be in addition to the GPRS charges for downloading the videos. It would be interesting to learn what, if any, modifications have been made to the videos to suit mobile screens and if Aaj Tak will be producing a separate section of videos. UTV New Media CEO TN Prabhu had told Medianama in an earlier post that developing videos for mobile screens required a lot of editing.

Pushing For GPRS

SMS continues to be the most popular medium for delivering value added services. News alerts via SMS have been here for years now, both via on-deck VAS and shortcodes and demand is still growing as millions of connections are added every month in the country. In May, 8.3 million GSM connections were added, and in April, there were 11.9 million CDMA and GSM connections added. Ofcourse, this is primarily in the bottom of the pyramid, subscribers who use basic mobile functions and do not have GPRS enabled. Look at the facts: as of December 2008, there were just 101.10 million wireless data (GPRS, HSDPA, etc) enabled handsets – those who own a mobile Internet enabled handset and not necessarily use mobile Internet. Compare it to the 346.9 million mobile connections in that month – a little over a third of the mobile userbase have GPRS enabled handsets. More statistics on the sector are here.

What News Sites Are Doing; Will Users Tune In To GPRS?

Aaj Tak’s competitor Zee News roped in VAS provider One97 to deliver its news through an SMS subscription pack. VAS providers such as Netcore offer aggregated news (Mytoday.com) directly to users while almost every broadcaster has a partnership with operators to offer news alerts via a premium SMS. Medianama uses Google Labs’ SMS push service, which is text-based. But providers are now intent on sending rich media content, which requires GPRS. NDTV Convergence and July Systems had set up Mi SMS, a video news alert service linked to the shortcode 56388 last year, but it only offered a WAP-push, sending links to images and video, cricket scores, stock quotes etc.  Is it still active?

RCOM’s exclusive ICC World Cup cricket content and live matches on mobile TV may have drawn more users onto RWorld, but will they stay on? Turning off GPRS is going to someday be like switching off TV – but first, everyone wants users to tune in.

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