Media conglomerate Viacom18 has launched an IVR based voice chat called MTV Gupshup, a mobile content shop called Vh1 Hub and a game for teenage girls called Stardom Saga.
Speaking to Medianama, Rajneel Kumar, Viacom18’s VP and Business Head, Digital Media said that these products have been launched to make their content available to consumers wherever they are, through multiple devices. Owing to the recent challenges in the traditional mobile VAS market in India due to change in guidelines, the company is launching new products to monetise this space better, adds Kumar.
Vh1 Hub: Vh1 Hub, Vh1’s mobile content shop powered by Techzone, offers its users with songs, ringtones, caller back tunes, videos and wall paper’s on their Vh1 Hub WAP, mobile site and their website. This service is available for Android, Blackberry and Symbian platforms.
When we checked the website we noticed that though people can sample songs and buy them, there is no information at all on the price of each song, caller tune or ringtone. The website also has a super value section, however without mentioning the price of each song, users cannot really find what the value ad is in this section. Even on check out the website does not provide any information about the pricing of the song that you buy. The website mentions that users can SMS Hub to 56882 to set up songs as caller tunes.
It is worth noting that Vh1 had also recently launched a Facebook music streaming app in partnership with Hungama. However, when asked about a streaming service for mobile, Kumar said that they are not currently considering a streaming service as part of their mobile content shop.
MTV Gupshup: The company claims that MTV Gupshup, their IVR based voice powered by Altruist is available in 13 different languages with search filters for age, zone, circle and gender, friendship, flirting and serious relationship. When asked if they are intended to launch a dating service, Kumar said that they see conversations between people happening on the Facebook page and intend to take these conversation forward through their voice chat service. He also added that anonymous option will be available to ensure privacy since call chats can’t be moderated.
Stardom Saga: Stardom saga is a mobile game targeting 13+ teenage girls with smart phones and viewers of their channel, Teen Nick. Available on iPhones, iPads and Android phones, the object of the game is to become a celebrity star. Kumar said that the app targets teenage girls who like to follow the lives of Bollywood and Hollywood stars and also intends to provide an option for advertisers to reach this market out traditional media. Celebrity life based games are among the most common themes of several girl games on the web and mobile.
Monetization: Viacom18 has partnered with all mobile operators through its partners – Altruist and Techzone for both its VAS offerings and will bill customers through the operators. The game is being offered as a freemium app with in-app purchase option.
Other players: Although Viacom18 claims to have evolved new products for the Indian mobile VAS market, there have been other players that have launched mobile content stores. Nokia stores offers music for download through operator billing. Mobile operator, Aircel, had launched a new service called ‘Pocket Music International’ where it offers its subscribers full music track downloads for Rs.5/day.
Saavn has recently partnered with Tata Docomo to launch music-oriented data plans to its 2G and 3G prepaid GSM subscribers. Hungama’s ArtistAloud.com has partnered with Vodafone, Uninor and MTS to allow them offer its service to their respective subscribers. Times Internet’s music streaming service, Gaana* had partneredwith Airtel to allow its users to set their Airtel Hello Tunes, its Caller Ringback Tones (CRBT) service. This partnership however is more of an advertising deal for Gaana.
*Disclosure: Indiatimes, which owns Gaana.com, is also an advertiser with MediaNama.