Shemaroo Entertainment, a digital content provider and aggregator, has tied up with state-run telco MTNL to offer devotional and film based content via voice, Video Calls and WAP/mobile Web,  in Delhi and Mumbai, the two cities where MTNL operates. Jai Maroo, Director at the company informed MediaNama that Shemaroo was in talks with other operators, including Reliance Communications, and the service will be rolled out across most of them within the next six months, with a common short-code across telecom operators. Shemaroo is looking to register the 58800 short code across telecom operators. Note that MediaNama has recommended a telecom operator independent common short regime to TRAI.

Nikhil adds: We tried using the IVVR/Video Portal service on a Samsung Galaxy SII on a post paid MTNL Delhi connection four times (thrice yesterday, once today), but it kept diverting to IVR/Voice portal.

Content

The devotional content will include Live Prayers from major shrines of India including Shirdi Sai Dham, Kashi Vishwanath, Shani Shinegnapur, Ashtavinayak, Gurudwara PatnaSaheb, Haji Ali Darga (Mumbai) amongst others through a service called Divine Prayers. In addition to live darshan, devotional video songs, mandir darshan and other related content will also be offered.

Film content will comprise of Mini Movies, which are 15 minute versions of a movie, edited and packaged with popular songs, important scenes and dialogues along with a narrator. According to Shemaroo, the collection of movies will cover different genres and languages and few of the popular films available on ‘Movie Talkies’ are Ishqiya, Don and Namak Halal among others. MediaNama readers would recall that Shemaroo had introduced a bouquet of 15 minute movies, covering over 50 films, and was inking mobile distribution deals, in March.

Shemaroo’s WAP portal, wap.shemaroo.com/mtnl, will offer movie scenes & songs, 15 min movies and other videos in different languages like Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali and Rajasthani among others.

IVVR Vs Packet Data

According to Maroo, IVVR is better compared to mobile web in terms of ease of use, since subscribers can access content by remembering and dialing out a short-code, instead of remembering long URLs and accessing the web browser. Although he did admit that IVVR which uses circuit switched data does not offer the flexibility to upstream content to high quality in good network coverage areas, unlike mobile web, which uses packet data. However, the number of consumers using high end phones are still less, and the number of 3G handsets supporting video calling is increasing each day.

On being asked why the company uses the same short code for voice and video, Maroo replied that the chances of a subscriber making a voice call instead of a video call are high, but in both cases he should reach the same destination. It also makes sense since the content will be more or less similar except that voice would replace video. Also, keeping two different short-codes will confuse subscribers, according to him.

Pricing

While the IVVR-video call service is priced at Rs 2 per minute except for some premium content which might be priced higher, video downloads through mobile web are priced between Rs 15 to Rs 30 depending on the kind of content. Video streaming is priced in between Rs 10 to Rs 30. Subscribers are not charged separately for data transfers, while downloading video clips.

Promoting the service

Shemaroo plans to promote the service to existing 3G subscribers by offering sample content for free, and to potential subscribers through offline marketing channels. Maroo says that the company might advertise the short code every where where it sees potential subscribers. For example, devotional content might be advertised at temple shrines.