Updated: Hungama Mobile has partnered with international music and entertainment channel, Vh1, to offer a dial-in music service on Airtel’s mobile network. Dubbed as Vh1 Radio Gaga, the service will be available for Airtel subscribers on the short code 55841 and is priced at a daily subscription charge of Rs 2 per day, and browsing charge of 3 paise per second. According to Hungama, the service will offer music across four categories- Vh1 Top 10, Vh1 Hip Hop Hustle, Vh1 Rock Rules and Vh1 Classic.
Hungama already offers a similar service with MTV India, which is also part of the Viacom18 network, just like Vh1. However, in addition to genre based music, it also offers original music programming from shows such as MTV Unplugged. The service will surely benefit from Vh1’s catalogue of music, since we believe that operators’ in-house dial-in music portals don’t really focus much on International music, and music like comedy clips does not require listeners to be regular followers of shows, so more casual listeners might dial-in. We’d also like to see Vh1 bringing unplugged tracks and live performances from formats like World Stage.
Earlier: Telecom operator Uninor has tied up with Red FM and Hungama Mobile to offer radio feeds of Red FM’s 8 radio stations including feeds from Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Jamshedpur, Chennai (Suryan FM) and Bangalore. Following the tie-up, Uninor subscribers will be able to subscribe to the service by paying Rs 10 for a week, with 100 bundled minutes of free access. The service will be ad free and can be accessed by dialing the toll-free short code 55935. It appears that Uninor intends to push the service mainly to migrants who wish to listen to radio feeds of their home town. The pricing is on the lines of similar services offered by Radio Mirchi on Airtel and BIG FM on Reliance Communications.
This is Hungama’s first radio content deployment. It has done repurposed tv content, including Koffee With Karan, in the past. Kalanidhi Maran’s Sun Network, which has a 48.9% stake in the venture had rebranded all its FM radio stations to Red FM except its Tamil offering, Suryan FM, after acquiring Red FM in 2007.
Simulcast or repurposed? : It’s not clear if the radio stream will be a live simulcast or a repurposed version of the radio feeds, however, if it’s truly ad-free, it will most likely be repurposed. Also, archaic geographical licensing restrictions do not permit free flow of broadcasts into regions for which the broadcaster does not hold a license.
Again, why don’t telcos and VAS companies start offering original regional content instead of repurposing radio feeds? As we pointed out in one of our earlier posts, tie-up with a radio channel helps by reducing the number of tracks played (over, say 24 hrs), with the addition of commentary from Radio Jockeys, hence the payouts to content owners reduce.
Repurposed Radio vs TV?: But we’re not sure if users want to listen to RJ talk on their phones. We feel that radio shows, unlike TV shows do not have a dedicated fan base, and talk radio is virtually non-existent in India. So it’s hard to say how these services are received in the context of subscriptions and revenue.
On a side note, with the shift to mobile data, wouldn’t offering radio streams on mobile web or through mobile apps be an interesting proposition? Radio One already offers radio streams through its paid mobile app for the iPhone. There are more ways to monetize web and app content, and it will also drive up data usage for telcos, even at a limited base.
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