Media conglomerate Network18 has launched video news alerts services on Tata DOCOMO, the GSM brand of Tata Teleservices. The media company will offer breaking news alerts in the form of video clips, which can be streamed, viewed and downloaded by both 2G & 3G subscribers on their mobile phones. Subscribers will also be able to search across news videos, ‘like’ individual clips, comment and participate in opinion polls.

Subscribers can avail of the service by sending an SMS ‘VIDEO NEWS’ to 53333, following which they will receive a subscription confirmation SMS along with a link to access video news. Three video alerts will be sent everyday. There are no subscription charges for the service, however, subscribers will have to pay data access charges of 10 paise for 10 Kb. They can deactivate the service by dialing 155223 or by sending an SMS:  ‘STOPVIDEONEWS’ to 155223. We were not able to test the service, since Tata Docomo does not have operations in Delhi.

Last month, Vodafone had also tied-up with Bengali language news channel Star Ananda to launch a local news pack, wherein subscribers receive three voice calls during the day, with news headlines from the channel, with subscription charges of Rs2 per day. Vodafone had also launched a Newswrap service where-in subscribers receive 2 MMS news alerts in a day, with detailed news images and text. It is also a subscription based service, with a daily rental of Re 1, weekly rental of Rs 5 and monthly rental of Rs 20.

Our Take:

We feel that the introduction of this service marks a change for video content on mobile: so far it has been pull based, but a push based news alert service has much greater potential because it serves as a call to action. Till now mobile tv and news videos had predominantly been pull services, requiring customers to reach the video destination/portal and stream content.

We do not know if Tata Docomo has deployed some special compression technology to make it available for 2G subscribers, but to launch it at a mass scale, and without any subscription charges, is incentive enough for subscribers to try the service.  We expect to see more TV news stations inking deals with mobile operators for similar offerings.

Nikhil adds: Tata Docomo says in the press release that the partnership is ‘exclusive’, which is strange. Why would a media company want to restrict its news alerts offering only to one telecom operator? Secondly, what happened to that rather promising alerts service from Indiatimes called 58888 Follow? We know the company was in talks with Bharti Airtel for a massive push for it, but that was almost a year ago.