Television

Zee TV launches a giant of a portal

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Zee Telefilms' subsidiary E-Connect has launched its portal www.zeenext.com on 22 March 2000. The B-2-C and C-2-C portal covers everything from entertainment to business. The horizontal portal is going head to head in competition with most general Indian portals, including rediff.com, indiainfo.com, and satyamonline.com. It features more content than any other portal and is also involved in unique services like 'Mobilenext' which is a messaging tool connecting to about 260 mobile networks globally.

ZeeNext boasts of having over 1,30,000 e-mail subscribers and over 1,000 Mobilenext downloads during the beta phase of the portal. The company is ready with broadband content which will be launched within a month and half. It is currently converting its entire programme library into streaming video.

ZeeNext President Sunil Jasuja says it will expand its content by acquiring and purchasing content through strategic alliances with other portals and content providers. The company says the site has 128-bit encryption and hence has a high level of protection, which will serve it well in the case of e-commerce transactions. It is in the process of obtaining a security certification from VeriSign.

On the company's plans to attract surfers hooked to other popular portals such as rediff.com, satyamonline.com, etc, E-Connect President Sunil Jasuja says, "Zee is a brand which is trusted and which reaches 30 million people worldwide."

E-Connect will launch dial-up Internet access services in Mumbai on 26 March costing Rs 499 per month. Net-over-cable TV, which is to be launched soon will be priced at Rs 1,500 per month for unlimited access. The cable modems are currently priced at Rs 10,000. Jasuja is however optimistic about it matching the price of conventional telephone modems. This will increase the penetration of Cable-over-Internet services of E-Connect, which will be enabled through SitiCable.

The company has invested Rs 250 million in the last three months of operations. E-Connect officials are confident of maintaining the budget of Rs 4 billion as decided earlier by the Zee management.

The revenue model of E-Connect is a combination of access, advertising, direct e-commerce and e-commerce facilitation. The major chink of revenues would come through the Internet access services. E-commerce revenues would also be significant The company hopes to break-even within three years of its operations.

The content and access mix of E-Connect will prove to be an advantage over many other Indian portals. It is likely to stand head and shoulders above most other portals in the broadband era thanks to its huge library of television software.

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