STAR India will roll out a whole range of services including contests, wallpaper and gaming for mobile phone users by July-end, hoping to generate a significant revenue stream in wireless business.
“We will aggressively launch our wireless service and chase every programme and channel of ours. We expect content to drive mass SMS usage,” said Sumantra Dutta, who heads the newly formed wireless business development division of STAR and is also the chief operating officer of Radio City.
STAR has tied up with all the cellular operators in the country except Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and will have a revenue share arrangement with them, said Mr Dutta. “In CDMA (code division multiple access), we are in talks with Reliance Infocomm. It is in the interest of mobile operators to drive SMS. We as broadcasters will push our services through 7827 and try to expand the market through news, information, and entertainment content,” he added.
STAR’s wireless services will include contests, polls, ringtones and logos. Mobile phone gaming of its programmes will also be made available.
The offerings will even include content outside STAR. “These will be in the areas of astrology, horoscope, traffic information, games from other suppliers, news, information and scores,” said Mr Dutta.
Download of two-minute clippings of its popular programmes including Kyunki Saas Bhi... will be a later stage offering. “We have the ability to talk to 200 million people every day through our TV channels. We also have radio stations pushing to 72 million people. We will leverage our media muscle to push our wireless services through 7827,” said Mr Dutta.
Content will power the whole wireless data business, said Mr Dutta, adding that interactive TV will become a substantial revenue earner in future. Realising the potential of wireless business, STAR has created a separate business development team. India and China are the two big markets in the Asian region identified by STAR.
“There is huge potential. In UK, BSkyB has a SMS channel. In India, we may go that way if the market matures,” he added.