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Govt may invite bids for railway TV content this month, market pegged at Rs 2.3k cr

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MUMBAI: Content on demand on trains and at stations is a sizeable market, says a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and, the Indian Railways estimates the infotainment market to be around Rs 2,277 crore in three years’ time.

The Railway Ministry, in a bid to revamp railways, may invite bids for Content on Demand (CoD) and rail radio services in April. Services that would be included under the CoD initiative are -- movies, TV serials, short videos, kids’ shows and devotional content. The CoD would also include streaming audio such as regional songs, movie songs, and devotional music; and providing electronic newspapers, gaming and educational content.

Railways' bids for app-based cab services will also be invited by May.

The video, radio, digital music and digital gaming contracts will be for a period of 10 years. The railways is, through these initiatives, expecting revenue of Rs 16,000-20,000 crore in the next 10 years.

As per the BCG report, to provide offline content, railways may have to shell out Rs 38,000 per coach. But, the online content will be expensive -- for Rs 25 lakh each. Coaches are required to be well equipped to offer content streamed via the internet.

The non-fare revenue plan is to roll out rail radio and CoD on one-third of the trains in the first year and most of the remainder in the second year. Ideas such as allowing weddings at stations or giving branding rights of trains and stations to FMCG companies.

Content companies such as Balaji Productions, Eros Entertainment and Shemaroo Entertainment, and aggregators such as Fever FM, Radio Mirchi, Hungama and Bindass may be interested in bidding. Internet players and service-providers in the offline streaming market include Moving Talkies, Dwingloo, PressPlay TV, Fropcorn, TouringTalkies, Zonk, CloudPlay and MyFreeTV.

Telecom companies such as Vodafone, Idea, Airtel, are also expected to be interested. The content providers will offer to the passengers both, paid and free content. The service provider shall provide only ‘U’, ‘U/A’ and ‘PG’ rated video content. ‘A’ rated content shall not be allowed.

This government policy includes providing video and radio content through WiFi in stations and on trains, leasing spaces on platforms to automated teller machines, giving outdoor spaces for installing advertising hoardings and billboards.

According to the railways, the entertainment CoD will be provided on the personal devices of passengers at stations and in trains and in a phased manner, which will be listed out in the Tender Document. The licensee/service provider will be permitted to provide streaming video and audio content services. Radio, however, will not be allowed at stations.

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