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Star and Colors reveal mobile TV developments

Star India and Viacom 18 are among the broadcasters hoping to tap into India's vast wireless market by developing TV content for the 800 million users of mobile phones in the country.

Star Plus has recently launched an app to allow iPhone or iPad users to watch live TV, catch-up on favourite programmes and listen to actors' audio blogs. It is also developing an Android app.

"We believe that our consumer doesn't want to be tied down to timings. He wants to watch his daily dose of TV at his own convenience," Lalit Bhagia of Star Plus told Reuters.

Star is, he says, investing considerable resources into developing digital platforms. Mobile users can also dial into a voice service to listen into existing Star programmes.

However, Vikram Malhotra, head of digital at the Viacom 18 channel Colors, is taking a different approach to cracking the market. "Critical mass will come when we have original content provided only for the mobile phone users outside of the regular TV viewing public," he told Reuters.

Colors is reportedly planning to launch some original voice-based shows for mobile users within weeks.

"Out of 800 million plus mobile phone subscribers, a minority own smartphones or have access to apps. Our priority is voice-based mobile programming, driven by the Colors brand but original content," Malhotra said.

Furthermore, with low broadband penetration and third generation (3G) mobile networks only just beginning to take hold, mobile TV still faces delivery challenges in India.

"Right now it's a wait and watch situation for most of the industry, we are feeling our way in," Malhotra concludes.

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