WorldSpace, provider of direct-to-person satellite audio and multimedia service, plans to offer subscription-based radio in India. The digital radio service, which is currently free-to-air, plans to go pay in a limited way by offering some audio services for a fee.
As part of $1.2-billion project, WorldSpace beams radio and multimedia services through two satellites, AfriStar and AsiaStar. Another satellite, AmeriStar will be launched later this year.
The India service, kicked-off earlier this year, can be accessed through portable receivers. The company claims to have sold around 22,000 receivers in the country since the launch of the service.
The service beams more than 20 channels with an assortment of music and news in several Indian languages including Hindi, Tamil and Bangla. Plans are afoot to sell more than 50,000 such receivers before the year-end.
The company is focussing on making the receivers more easily available and cheap. The receivers, which are currently priced in the range of Rs 6,000 to Rs 12,000 are expected to drop in course of the year.
Several Indian manufacturers, including BPL and Videocon, are in the process of locally manufacturing the receivers in the country. Hitachi, Sanyo, JVC and Matsushita are the other manufacturers in the fray.
Worldwide the company follows three revenue streams which includes subscription-based radio and multimedia service, advertising, and leasing of transponder space to broadcasters. In India too the company would follow a similar strategy and accordingly plans to launch subscription-based services.
The company is expected to break-even by 2004 with over 2 million receivers. The company sold 1,50,000 receivers in various markets across the world in last year.
WorldSpace plans to actively work with government institutions in delivering socially relevant messages and services.