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Verismo To Shut Down Mela, Its Global Consumer Entertainment Service; Timeline

It looks like the Intel Capital funded Verismo Networks is shutting down its global multi-platform consumer entertainment service Mela, which focused on South Asian content. The company has put up a note on Mela’s website stating that it will be shutting down the Mela Movies service on September 15, 2012.

The company also notes that monthly subscribers of Mela will be able to access the service through the end of their subscription period while it will be refunding a pro-rated amount to the annual subscribers for the unused part of the subscription period. We were also not able to locate Mela apps in Google Play and iTunes App Store.

We assume this was inevitable after Sab Kanaujia had stepped down as the President, Entertainment Services, Verismo Networks and GM, Mela in May 2012. Kanaujia had stated that he was stepping down due to a difference in opinion with Prakash Bhalerao, the CEO of Verismo Networks on the strategy and the direction in which Mela was headed.

At that time, Kanaujia had also stated that he had submitted a proposal to the Verismo board to spin Mela out from Verismo as an independent entity controlled by the management team, and was currently in discussion with the board. However, it looks like the proposal didn’t go through. Kanaujia had also stated that if he doesn’t reach on an agreement with the Verismo board, he will open a new South Asian content focused company, for which he claimed, he was already in talks with a few potential strategic partners.

Timeline of Verismo Initiatives in India

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– In August 2011, Intel Capital funded Verismo Networks had acquired Sab Kanaujia’s Digital Entertainment Corporation of India (DECI) to launch an entertainment services division in India with Sab Kanaujia as its President (Entertainment Services). A month later, it had launched a consumer entertainment service called Mela which offered premium South Asian video content including 40 live television channels covering news and entertainment, 250 Bollywood and regional movies and select premium videos spread across different categories. The company had stated that the service will initially target expatriate South Asian community in the United States and extend it to other regions in a phased manner.

– In January 2012, Verismo launched an iOS app for Mela in January 2012. While the app was available for free download, there was a monthly subscription fee of $4.99/month for unlimited access to the company’s movie catalogue which it claimed to offer more than 1,000 movies including titles like Bheja Fry 2, Dostana, Band Baaja Baaraat, New York, and others. At the time of writing this article, we noticed that the app has been pulled from the iTunes app store.

– In March 2012, Verismo’s Mela launched a First Day First Show initiative, wherein it released Bollywood movies in international markets simultaneous to their theatrical release in India. These movies were available across various platforms like Roku, iPad and on their Mela HD Set Top Box.

– In May 2012, Verismo released its MelaTV app on multiple platforms like Roku, iPad, Android tablets, Windows and Mac OS desktops, and other Internet-enabled devices and had extended the service to all regions, allowing Indian users to access live TV and on demand content through various Internet connected devices. The app offered Tamil and Telugu entertainment content including entertainment channels, cooking shows, sports and live news, educational programs, and devotional videos along with an in-house movie channel called MelaFlix which aired Telugu and Tamil films and popular Bollywood titles on a subscription basis. The company had claimed that it had tied up with several content providers at launch, including Sun Network, Yash Raj Films, ETV Network, Shemaroo, and Telugu One among others. At the time of writing this article, we noticed that the app has been pulled from the iTunes App store but it is still available on the Google Play Store.

– In July 2012, The company was forced to shut down its MelaTV service on Roku, due to an exclusive deal between Roku and Dish Network, following which it was not allowed to offer Mela TV service on Roku box.

– In August 2012, Mela had launched a free online movie streaming service, allowing users to view select full length movies, free of cost, on their computers, Mela TV iPad app (outside India), Roku (outside India and US), Android, Kindle Fire, Samsung TVs and DVD. At launch, the service offered eight Hindi movies with the company noting that it will be adding new titles from Hindi and eight regional languages every week. That being said, we however had noted that the service required a Mela TV account to stream the movie and we were unable to sign up for the service due to a possible broken registration mechanism.

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