Star kickstarts triple play mission with 7827 expansion

MUMBAI: Star India is beefing up its "response mechanism", 7827 - the short code - to explore the burgeoning mobile entertainment market in the country.

Starting today, the website will sport a new look as Star expands the 7827 services from television-focused interactivity to entertainment, specially created and aggregated for the mobile screen.

In another major foray, Star India will launch a dedicated multi-lingual mobile audio channel, Star Voice in July. The mobile-based interactive voice system will offer consumers entertainment and other personalised updates.

"We would like to be the first player going at the property," says Star Entertainment India CEO Sameer Nair indicating the growth plans Star India has conceived to tap the mobile entertainment sector. "Star 7827 will be one of the key focus areas of our business and is expected to contribute significantly to our revenues over the next three to five years. Our proven programming and marketing abilities should ensure that we become one of the key players in this space."

"Since the last three years, we had been doing a detailed study on the subject and the expansion of the short code 7827 is one of the results," says Star senior VP, Interactive Services, Viren Popli.

As part of the revamping, has been completely redesigned to reflect the new push in content aggregation. A special section to help visitors learn more about their phones, talk about mobile content and services as exchange views and experiences has also been created. In accordance with the 7827 revamp, a WAP site for mobile internet users has also been created from where visitors will soon be able to access a range of mobile content including videos.

When queried on Star's strategies to explore the segment, Nair said it was a learning process which still continue. "We have more questions than answers. These are early days and we are looking at a difficult and different market. We will continue pushing our television content on the mobile platform. We will have variations as it progresses. Once we start producing separate content for the mobile platform, we will definitely switch to a subscription model," says Nair.

"As the first step towards creating properties in-house, Star will be unveiling a game on its popular Channel [V] character Chimpu," adds Popli.

The revamped 7827 will offer community based content services: personalised products such as ring tones, wallpapers; entertainment products in the range of games, video and audio; information products like news, astrology and jokes. The cost of downloading games from the website will range from Rs 3 to Rs 350, while other services such as ring tones and wallpapers will be available in the range of Rs 3 to Rs 6.

Speaking on Star's association with digital content producers and its plans to accomplish self-sufficiency on this front, Nair said the company was looking to associate with as many companies as possible. "We want to do the products of our own. But, even then, we will be keeping these producers in the loop. We want to rope in as many partners as possible. This is a give and take process as we can learn new things out of our associations," he says.

Star 7827 in its new avatar will be creating, distributing and marketing content through tie-ups with Indian and International companies. "We will be taking the platform abroad. We are in talks with various international companies for technology and other solutions," says Popli.

Star India has also finalised a major publicity overdrive to promote the new initiative. The first set of creatives, promoting 7827 breaks across media platforms today. The company has also entered into a product placement arrangement with cell phone manufacturer Motorola for the promotions. As per the deal, the 7827 promotional creatives will be sporting a Motorola branded cellular phone.

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