Business World wrote recently about the various IPTV services being launched this year in India: Reliance, Bharti, BSNL, MTNL and HFCL Infotel are spending a lot of money to find the answer to a tricky question. What will make you buy television signals from their existing phone lines instead of your traditional cable or DTH (direct-to-home) operator? To find the answer, pilot projects have been launched across the country to test various permutations and combinations of price, technology and content. Sometime this July, MTNL will become the first to launch Internet protocol television (IPTV) service (See How IPTV Stacks Up Against The Others). By the end of the year, other telecom operators will follow. And early in 2007, the Andhra Pradesh and Goa governments will launch broadband projects that include IPTV.
The article also provides a wider context:
DTH has already stolen some of IPTVs thunder. Think about the IPTV differentiators the ability to offer TV on demand, telephony and Internet. DTH already offers TV on demand and consumers have taken to it. Since its launch in 2003, DTH has hit over 4 million homes going by the numbers that Zees Dish TV and DD Direct+ provide. Traditional cable operators like Siti Cable are offering boxes that will continue providing video through the cable wire and other services through an IP or broadband wire. Others like Hathway have had modest success with digital set-top boxes and are offering broadband Internet access.
Why, then, would you buy an IPTV service? IPTV operators answer: triple play HFCL will offer a package deal at Rs 699 a month an IPTV connection, 100 free calls and 500 MB of free data download at 512 kbps. MTNL, on the other hand, will offer two packages a bundled service as well as a pay as you use package.
There is a lot of friction between content owners (broadcasters, music companies or film firms) and telecom companies over the money the latter make from selling these to subscribers. Telcos have simply bulldozed content companies to retain 70 per cent of the revenues against the international norm of about 30 per cent.
Rajshri Media, a company I have invested in, is planning to offer video content over broadband networks in India and internationally. The same issue of Business World carried a preview of the plans: Rajshriis looking at the four screens that dominate our lives the TV, cinema, the PC and the mobile phone and ways to make money from themRajshri is focusing on content across these screens, plus that of the iPodsThe companys new digital media arm, Rajshri Media, has made some bold moves. It now has the Internet and telecom rights to 300 films (including 90 from its own library). Blockbusters like Amar Akbar Anthony, Kashmir Ki Kali or Anari are now available for downloads from the portals of 10 major telecom operators and two mobile aggregators (Indiatimes.com and mauj.com). Although Rajshri has the rights to the entire film, only clips lasting 30-40 seconds can be downloaded because of bandwith limitations. Rajshri also owns the rights to Mahabharata, Baba Ramdevs yoga programmes, Oshos discourses and Barbie movies. In the next three months, the group aims to have its own broadband portal with all these available online.
Tomorrow: A Personal View