Mela, the global multi-platform consumer entertainment service from Verismo, which focusses on South Asian content has launched an iPad app. According to a tweet from Sab Kanaujia, President (Entertainment Services), Verismo, the app (download) will offer free access to limited content till 31st January 2012. The paid version of the app will be launched on 1st February, and will be priced at $4.99 per month, offering unlimited access to the company’s movie catalogue, which it claims includes more than 1,000 movies including titles like Bheja Fry 2, Dostana, Band Baaja Baaraat, New York, and others. The service will follow an unlimited ‘all you can eat’ model, however, Kanaujia had informed us that new titles might be offered on a pay-per-view basis. He had also indicated that the iPad app would be offered free to existing subscribers of Mela, as part of its multiple device strategy. The app does not include Mela’s TV offering, which we feel should have been a part of the app.
We believe the subscription would be implemented through iTunes In-App purchase system. The app only works on a WiFi connection, which in a way limits its use. Although, the company says that movies will not stream in India due to geographical restrictions in movie rights, we were able to stream movies in the free app, at the time of writing this post. We downloaded the app through a US iTunes account.
The free app has a simple interface offering a listing of popular movie titles across different Indian languages including Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Punjabi, Marathi and Gujarati, on the home section, in addition to Recently Added and an alphabetical listing for each language in the ‘Languages’ section. There’s also a built-in ‘Search’ functionality.
We tried the app on an iPad 1 running iOS 5, on a 2Mbps connection and found that the catalog took some time to load. Also the scrolling was also not that smooth. The movie player offers an option to watch the movie full -screen. There is no option to choose the movie’s display resolution. We do not know if the app will also offer movies in HD. The app suports multitasking and remembers the exact position, if one leaves a movie in the middle of a streaming session and resumes playback.
Verismo intends to position Mela on the lines of NetFlix and Hulu for the South-Asian diaspora. As we’ve said earlier, the service would face competition from YouTube, which also offers movie streaming for Indian titles in the US, and is integrated well with all devices. At the end of the day, it will all depend on the quality of movie titles available on the platform, that will help the company in pulling more users.