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News on mobile: waiting for the 3G push

20-November-2009
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News on mobile: waiting for the 3G push

Growing numbers of mobile phone users and a news hungry nation offer a potent combination for the growth of news on mobile phones. While news channels have already begun exploring this medium in a big way, digital agencies too are upbeat about it and are hoping 3G rollout would further boost news on mobile. exchange4media takes a look at this growing space.

On the growing possibilities of news on mobile domain, Ajatshatru Singh, Head of Online, NewsX, elaborated, “Given that India has the fastest growing mobile device market in the world and that 3G is just around the corner, news on mobile has a huge scope in India. Specific genres news is the future of the mobile medium. The mobile platform will be used by the consumers for seeking customised content specifically tailored to individual requirements.”

Neeraj Sanan, Marketing Head, Star News, noted, “India is a news hungry society and news is happening all the time. Mobile is a platform that provides access to the same. As mobile VAS peneteration/ usage increases, surely more news on mobile is inevitable. As per my earlier experience, Bollywood, cricket and political news are the heroes currently. However, news as a very ‘local subject with a personal connect’ can also be sold.”

“In my view, any service which engages/ entertains the user or has ‘utility’ value will succeed. Moreover, a valuable by-product of the product success is the community being built around the product, which will offer a host of options, for example, exchange4media, which has a wonderfully popular newsletter, but also a community very efficiently monetised by e4m events,” he added.

Digital agencies upbeat on this medium

Digital agencies are seeing news on mobile positively for content provider news channels. They believe that on one hand, it will increase the reach of the channel and engagement with the audience, on the other hand, this medium will work as a substitute medium for consumption of content.

According to Amar Deep Singh, Vice President, Interactive Avenues, “Business news, specifically stocks, cricket updates, generic news and entertainment, including video, will be big. Mobile is just another avenue to distribute content for a channel. Yes, it will definitely increase reach and engagement of the content provider.”

He further said, “However, mobile phones have limitations like screen size and speed. It will be used when the user does not have access to the either TV or the Internet. 3G and smart phones will reduce these limitations and hence, consumption of news content on mobile will definitely go up, wherein SMS-based services have huge numbers of subscribers for their news alerts, stock alerts as well as cricket alerts besides others like entertainment.”

Sandeep Singh, Business Head, Quasar, explained, “With increasing mobile penetration , and access to bandwidth on mobile becoming easier and cheaper, I see an increase in the usage of mobile as access device for the Internet, especially for social networking, infotainment and other value-added services.”

He added, “For an established broadcast channel, mobile is supplementary and a reminder medium by which they can extend their relationship with their customers through one more touch point. Digital is moving the world to ‘anytime, anywhere’ access to information. Thus, the broadcast channel needs to extend that promise to retain their loyal audience.”

What news channels are doing

“After entering the 3G space, broadcasting on mobile will become a critical requirement for every channel vying for eyeballs on this medium,” pointed out NewsX’s Singh.

On NewsX’s endeavour, he informed, “NewsX is one of those channels providing news on mobile. We were the first to launch the live feed of NewsX channel on the mobile platform. Also, we are giving very good quality live feed on our website, http://newsx.com.”

“On the mobile medium, we are currently exploring two news delivery methods. Live video streaming with minimal buffering for handheld devices with full-fledged streaming capabilities. This is coupled with a live audio-only stream for handhelds that have limited streaming capabilities. News is also delivered in standard text/image format on our WAP portal: http://m.newsx.com,” Singh further said.

Star News has also been very active for the last few years in this domain. On its services, Sanan explained, “There are numerous SMS/ IVRS based subscription/ pull services currently available through Star News. In fact, live election results on mobile powered by the news channels are an immensely popular service.”

Indian mobile penetration is expected to reach 50 per cent in 2010, adding more than 200 million subscribers in two years. This is surely a good sign for the mobile industry and as well as for news content providers on mobile devices.

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