Update: In an unprecedented move, the Indian Premier League has put its weight behind the deal, reports PTI, sending “an advisory” to telcos that they should only source IPL content from the authorised vendor ‘vRock Mobiles’. We had questioned earlier on Friday whether these rights are worth anything at all, since telcos can provide the same info as generic Cricket updates, or any site can display ball by ball updates on WAP. I guess there must be a premium on the rights that the IPL has to justify.

Perhaps one should expect a stand-off now between the IPL and Telecom Operators. A court case pending in the Madras High Court also hinges on it. The media impasse hasn’t been sorted out, has it?

Earlier (March 5th) (by Preethi J & Nikhil Pahwa):
vRock Mobile Communications has signed an agreement with licensing partner Global Cricket Ventures for global – SMS, MMS and IVR rights for a period of five years. Not much is known about the company: we could not find a website, any previous deals, nor any earlier products. Today we’ve received calls from some mobile VAS companies today asking “vRock who?”, much in the same vein as that historical Cricket question: “Who is this Noel David?

vRock appears to be a new player in the game: according to the official statement from the IPL, “vRock Mobile Communications (VRMPL) is a private limited firm founded by three promoters namely – Mr. Ramesh Awtaney (Director), Mr. Vivek Gupta (Director) and Mr. Jatin Ahluwalia (Chief Executive Officer) who bring with them over 50 years of collective experience in mobile telephony and services, having created new business models, technology, mobility and marketing solutions.” The company is headquartered out of Gurgaon, with offices in Mumbai.

All Mobile Rights To vRock?

vRock Mobile has bagged the entire bouquet of rights – CDMA, GSM, GPRS, MMS, WAP, EDGE and even 3G. It goes to include “any other mobile or desktop technology that is capable of sending or receiving SMS/MMS alerts, SMS/MMS contest/ activations and live audio commentary / IVR platform”. Sounds comprehensive…did they leave anything out?

The company will offer:

  • live score alerts (subscriptions as well as on-demand)
  • SMS contests – daily contests and “live, in-stadia” contests.
  • commentary over interactive voice response (IVR)
  • SMS subscriptions to latest IPL news, post-match party gossip, match statistics, etc
  • MMS pictures

What Are These Rights Worth?

MediaNama readers will remember that last year, Canaan Partners funded mobile VAS company Cellcast had received the mobile content rights for SMS, IVR and USSD updates, while Zenga Entertainment had the mobile live streaming rights. Zenga wasn’t able to adequately monetize their live streaming rights, as is apparent from  this debate at an ASSOCHAM conference.

But what about the SMS rights? Readers might remember a Madras High court case that awarded an interim injunction preventing 18 companies from sending SMS updates. Some industry execs however claim that unlicensed IPL SMS updates continue to be sent under the garb of ‘generic Cricket updates’. If that is the case, then why would anyone buy SMS rights. Similarly, if any WAP or web portal can put up live updates or ball by ball commentary by watching TV, then why buy official WAP or web portal rights?

Other IPL partners:

Yesterday, the rights to the Official IPL Mobile Application on the Apple iPhone, Blackberry and Android were given to Sigma Ventures and DCI Mobile Studios.

Online ticketing website BookmyShow.com is the exclusive ticketing partner for the Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab and official online ticketing Partner for Delhi Daredevils while Ticketgenie.in powers the ticketing option in the official IPL Site.

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