Essel targets January 2007 launch of digital venture; plans web portal

MUMBAI: Subhash Chandra-promoted Essel Group will unveil a set of digital initiatives under the banner of its newly-formed digital arm Digital Media Convergence Ltd (DMCL) by January 2007, including a web portal.

The plan is to explore new media platforms such as mobile and IPTV and the online space in a full-fledged manner to distribute various formats of digitised content.

"We will be unveiling our initiatives in three months time. We are going to create various in-house formats and shows. Apart from this, we are speaking to various foreign players as well to acquire internationally acclaimed formats. We are sending a special programming delegation for the upcoming Mipcom session. Though the stress is on delivering fresh content, we are keen on the Zee digital library as well," says DMCL CEO Abhijeet Saxena.

DMCL will concentrate on acquiring, digitising and making available content on various delivery platforms. "Apart from our library products, we are keenly looking at providing our services to all the content owners who want to distribute their content in these platforms. The company will also be exploring the interactivity segment to tap the potential this space offers to the maximum," Saxena adds.

To enrich its platforms, DMCL will be creating special interest content, apart from making use of the Zee Network library on a selective basis. DMCL has already initiated talks with various Indian as well as international companies to acquire programming formats and various genres of content.

According to Saxena, the company is thinking beyond mobisodes and other existing mobile value added services (VAS). He says the plan is to launch multiple formats of shows, targeting various segments of the consumer.

"We have thought about the viability of the services from a consumer point of view and the practicalities of making it a popular medium. Hence, we will offer various price rates depending on the duration and uniqueness of the formats. For example, we are working on multiple formats for movies, not just abridged versions. To market these multiple segments, we have classified the services into premium and mass oriented," Saxena offers.

DMCL expects to contribute to the mobile VAS in a significant manner with the initiatives. "The existing mobile VAS market size comes about $500 million and this space is expected to reach $10 billion by 2010. DMCL expects to be a major contributor to the expansion," says Saxena.

DMCL has recently roped in Intel and IBM for its back-end technology support. The company has already brought most of the telecom operators on board for the initiative.

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