denblog

Updated: Content tie-ups with NDTV, Colours, CNN-IBN

Cable TV operator  DEN Networks, which is promoted by Raghav Bahl, managing director, Network18 and Sameer Manchanda of IBN18, has launched an interactive micro-blogging service called Blog.Telly. Don’t be misled by the name, it is more of a “chat room” where users can type in messages and opinions on television programmes from their remote controls through the Excite interactive feature on DEN. The messages are displayed on the other DEN subscribers’ television sets.

Users can join four forums: News Views (current affairs and topics such as the austerity drive, “Should the government agree to world class pay for IIM,IIT faculty?” etc), Movie Masala (latest movie reviews), Gup Shup (TV, soaps, reality shows and celebrity gossip) and Sports Mania (topics such as Kirsten Dossier’s advice to players) and add comments on the fly from their remote controls.

Cross Media Integration; For Feedback?

DEN also allows users to post comments online and scrolls them on its Digitelly.in portal as well as its cable TV network. This is not restricted to its users. Those who are new to blogging might take a fancy to this service, as it gives them an avenue to air their views, but they will soon tire of it unless DEN develops a full-fledged community around it. The service only offers a “5-minutes of fame” experience –

your latest comment may be on the site and on TV but is displaced by new comments and vanishes into thin air. How is this defined as a discussion? Only a dozen of the latest comments are visible per topic and there are no archives of comments on the site.

DEN has not integrated it with social media sites so one can not invite her friends over to participate. It does not permit the user to add her blog identity or address, just leaving it at “name, city” – very old school.

This is the first time that a cable TV provider has adopted cross-media integration, and in that sense, it is a pioneering move. Yet, one tends to be disappointed – after all, broadcasters have been harnessing their viewer’s opinions with Twitter, inviting users to vote with SMSs, etc. DEN could have done a lot more on the online front, and for that, we think its micro-blogging initiative comes across as a tentative and awkward trial of cross-media integration.

Why It Needs New Features

As we noted before on Medianama, DEN needs to quickly build up its brand, gain loyalty in the face of massive competition from DTH players and retain its consumer base. It is planning for an IPO, foraying into broadband, acquiring smaller cable TV operators and building up its technology partnerships – Israel-based NDS is now powering Blog.Telly. DEN also offers pay-per-view services, gaming and plans to launch interactive educational programmes, personal video recording and mosaic viewing.

For Feedback?

DEN plans to use the comments and views collated on Blog.telly as feedback and use it to determine future programming. It sounds like quite a task for DEN – viewer’s opinions are subjective and trawling through millions of them (DEN claims it reaches 10 million homes) to garner feedback will be a laborious undertaking. Not to forget the number of online non-user comments it will receive on Blog.telly’s site. But if it succeeds, this could be a model that other providers – be it analog cable TV or DTH – can use in their negotiations of carriage fees with broadcasters.

Updated: Content Tie-Ups, Shows Too, Moderation

Soon after we wrote this post came news that DEN had tied up with NDTV for news topics. DEN has also partnered with NDTV India (Hindi news channel) for the sports topics; CNN-IBN for movies, Viacom18’s Colors and NDTV Imagine for Gupshup, Neeta Thakare, Vice President, Content Innovation, DEN told Medianama. There are no signs of co-branding on the Blog.telly website.

“The partnership means that we select topics once a week and sending them to DEN to feature on its discussion board, where users could comment, either on TV or on the portal,” said Rohit Lamba, Senior Vice President, NDTV Distribution & Affiliate Relations. The same topics are also promoted on NDTV’s website, he added. On searching, we noticed topics under “Only on NDTV” but they were polls and not enabled for comments.

While the company’s release said that comments on shows by NDTV anchors like Barkha Dutt or Prannoy Roy could also take place, the feature is not yet available. “For the time being, there are topics and further on, shows will be included,” said Thakare.

A team of 3 from NDTV – 2 from NDTV Convergence, the digital arm and one from distribution, are in charge of selecting topics. There is no moderation of comments by the TV broadcaster, it is performed by DEN’s team of 7-8 employees which uploads the content and handles the technical back-end.

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