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Essel launches Indian mobile video portal via BSNL

Essel Group, India's largest entertaiment/media conglomerate, has turned to the expertise of U-Turn Media to break into the mobile portal market in Northern India. The Group will be working with wireless operator BSNL.

India’s largest media and entertainment conglomerate and owner of the Zee group of TV channels, Essel Group, has launched a mobile portal in Northern India. Developed in partnership with the government owned wireless operator BSNL, the service is powered by U-Turn Media Group’s mobile media delivery platform. Known as the Isee mobile video portal, the branded portal is Essel Group’s first mobile service and will offer streamed news, sport, lifestyle and soap opera video content from the Zee group of Indian TV channels. The portal is powered by U-Turn technology and will be available to BSNL customers in Northern India in this first phase of the service roll-out.

Once the Isee portal is downloaded, consumers can chose from several menus such as IseeTV, ZeeNews, Tazaa and Masti. Streamed video content within these menus includes a thirty minute "best of" looped channel, current affairs, news and sport highlights as well as fashion trends, lifestyle clips and a large selection of Bollywood and soap opera mobisodes. BSNL customers can easily download the portal to their phones in India by sending an SMS message with the text "isee" to 7575. The service is offered for free for the first thirty days and will be charged at a monthly price of US$3.79. The subscription grants unlimited access to all content within the portal for pre- and post-paid BSNL customers and does not require the user to pay additional data tariff changes. This fixed rate, service-specific data tariffication is the first of its kind in India and has been implemented by BSNL to drive data consumption and increase awareness of premium mobile content and services. “BSNL is the first mobile operator in India to launch a streamed mobile video service,” said Mr S R Agarwal, General Manager of BSNL. “The Isee portal allows our customers to use their mobile phones for much more than just making calls and sending messages." BSNL ultimately aims to offer the portal to customers across India. Specific content and language will also be included on a regional basis as the service becomes available in new areas.

The strength of the portal, in Essel's opinon, lies in its ease of use. Once the application is downloaded, an Isee branded icon is installed into the main menu of the phone. Simply clicking on the icon launches the portal allowing users to browse and view crystal clear video content on their mobile phone, with no manual configuration required. The content provision and aggregation for the service is being handled by Essel Group’s Digital Media Convergence Ltd (DMCL). In future, the Isee portal will include content aggregated by DMCL that originates from sources outside Zee. Music, ring tones and other value added services will also be available in the portal in the coming months. In addition, the company plans to add interactive features such as voting, competitions and user-generated content at a later date.

The partnership between BSNL, DMCL and U-Turn is considered unique by its partners because it brings together the customer base and marketing power of a major network operator, a media partner that can provide a content library with titles that are already household names and a third party technology partner that has developed a platform for managing, publishing and monetising the delivery of multimedia to mobile consumers. In more technical terms, U-Turn Media Group has provided BSNL and Essel Group with a complete end-to-end solution that includes tools for managing, aggregating, encoding rich media content, a sophisticated reporting tool for tracking user’s browsing and purchasing behaviour, a streaming delivery solution and an intuitive and easy to use handset application.

* Founded in 2001, U-Turn is one of the first companies in the world to bring high-quality video content to mobile phones. The company has deployed mobile solutions in several countries throughout the world and has regional offices in Europe and USA. It is a company focused on enabling broadcasters, media companies, marketing firms and wireless operators the ability to connect with mobile consumers on the move through compelling custom branded mobile applications and services. ** Essel Group has diverse national and global business interests, encompassing media programming, broadcast & distribution, specialty packaging, entertainment and trading. The group has close synergies with ventures active in content, distribution/reach and infrastructure/logistics, eg, Zee Telefilms, Siticable, Zee Interactive Learning Systems, E-city, Esselworld, and Essel Propack.

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