A convergence of sorts is expected to happen with television channels planning to use mobile technology to shore up the revenues. Broadcasters such as Star India and Sony Entertainment Television (SET) are in the process of tying up with various telecom service providers to generate additional revenues using wireless technology such as SMS and phone votes.
And this initiative is expected to take off with the launch of two reality shows - The Indian Superstar on Star Plus and Pop Idols on Sony — later this year.
The two shows are talent hunt contests with a large dose of audience interaction. While the `Indian Superstar' has been created by Star India for the local market, Sony has acquired the rights to Pop Idols from Bertelsmann-owned Fremantle Media. Audiences could use mobile phones to participate in these shows.
Currently, SMS technology is being used by channels to seek opinions from viewers, answer contest questions and download ringtones of popular entertainment programmes.
Earlier attempts by Star to get viewers to participate in the re-run of Kaun Banega Crorepati have not been successful due to technology hiccups. But this time round, the channel is hoping that these glitches will not remain.
According to sources in Star India, revenues from interactivity using mobile phones would be the third income component to the broadcasting business, apart from subscription and advertising earnings. "We will enter into revenue sharing arrangements with service providers and the wireless services could be both subscription based and free. We are in the process of fine-tuning our strategy," said the source.
"There are over 30 million mobile phone users in the country, and even if 10 per cent sign up initially, we could make good revenues by charging a minuscule monthly subscription fee," he added.
Internationally, viewers who wished to place a vote for any of the interactive shows on television could do so via telephone or web by paying as little as a few pence.
In the UK, Pop Idols received 32 million phone votes throughout the series — ranging between 0.5 million and nearly 9 million for the final show.
In the US, a record was set for mobile-orientated messages with American Idols receiving 7.5 million messages during the series and as many as 2.5 million on the last night.
Meanwhile, the two channels are hoping that the reality shows would also boost the viewership of the channels.
And with prizes that include a chance to be cast as the hero or heroine of a film or become a national icon, broadcasters expect viewer interest to be high.