• OUTLOOK ARENA
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  • MARCH 2, 2011

The era of Mobisodes and Webisodes is here

Next time your flight is delayed and you are stuck at the airport - Watch a serial on your mobile phone or listen to your favourite TV show that you missed while travelling. Surprised!! Well, such an era is here already.

Times are changing and so is the way of life in India. Heavy traffic in cities and towns has increased daily commuting hours for Indians. Also, we have been flying more frequently for business as well as leisure. This means that we have to spend considerable time waiting at the airports before boarding our flights. Media companies like Balaji Telefilms foresee an opportunity here. Last year, they had started with a series of mobisodes (mobile episodes) and websisodes (web episodes) for mobile and internet viewers. Some of their well received shows are "Bol Niti Bol"; "Ramayan Stories" and "Pyar ki Baatein". The company also introduced Lord Ganesha stories and aartis especially for iPhones. These have been recorded by professional artistes and Bollywood singers.

Television

Balaji is not the only company to hop onto the new media bandwagon. Last week Star Plus declared that it will now be available to its viewers across all media platforms. Star TV viewers can now listen to their favourite shows by simply dialing a number. One can also listen to old movies on phones, a concept that Star has termed as "audio cinema". Zee's joint venture with a Los Angeles based leading digital media Company is a step to get into the mobile and web entertainment space.

Movies

Our movie industry is not far behind in this new media race. In fact, Rajshri Group had released their movie "Vivah" online at the same time when it was released in cinemas all over. Dabang, the Salman Khan starrer, became the first Indian movie to be released on You Tube. Bollywood is also planning for edited shorter versions of movies for people who do not wish to spend 3 hours at a cinema.

Radio

Radio Mirchi of ENIL (Entertainment Network India Limited) has partnered with Reliance Communications, BSNL and Bharti Airtel for Mirchi Mobile. Under this, the listeners can tune in to special content created by Radio Mirchi for different regions. This is aimed at migrant population who can now listen to radio station of their home town in their native language.

VAS

India has 500 m mobile users and is now the second largest mobile entertainment market after China. With the introduction of 3G services, the mobile VAS (Value Added Services) market will expand and will mainly consist of teenagers and professionals with high disposable incomes. The media companies are very optimistic about this new market's potential and are making products and services aimed at the youth.

The advertising revenue share of new media has been constantly on the rise and this segment grew by nearly 25% last year. India's base of 81 m internet users is the fourth largest in the world. With increased use of mobile internet, this number is likely to grow nearly fivefold by 2015. Also, there will be a huge segment of mobile internet users.

However, there are certain concerns that need to be addressed

Internet penetration will involve infrastructure development which is a major problem in India. India is a diversified country and creating content for such a population will not be an easy task. Mobile networks will have to get better for mobile VAS to be successful. The consumers will have to pay a price to avail of services on new media platforms. Traditionally, Indians are not willing to spend for services that are otherwise freely available through other means.

The new media initiatives are not expensive propositions. The media companies may benefit out of these if they chose the right medium for the right target audience. Intelligent use of new media along with traditional media platforms will help the companies in getting distinct advantage over each other. A lot of experiments wait to happen in new media and the challenge for media companies is to decide which one will boost their earnings and build their brand value. Ultimately, the viewer will decide what works and what does not- Customer is King.

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