Communications and Microsoft have entered into a strategic partnership to deliver a connected, personalised television experience to consumers in India through Reliance's IPTV service, which will be powered by the Microsoft Mediaroom Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) software platform. As per the agreement, Reliance Communications will have the exclusive deployment rights for the platform in India.
The contract is estimated to be worth US$500 million.
Reliance's IPTV service will allow Reliance to deliver a personalised television experience with several advanced features, such as video on demand (VoD), digital video recording (DVR), instant channel changing, and personal media sharing. IPTV subscribers will be able to watch popular standard definition (SD) content as well as high definition (HD) content (a first for India) at the click of a button. The service will be launched by March 2008.
Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft, says, "TV is the only major digital device that has been left out of the networking revolution, and Microsoft and Reliance will make the TV a first class citizen in the connected entertainment landscape."
The IPTV service will target an area of great degree of ambiguity as far as television content and advertising go in India. According to Reliance executives, at present, there is very little clear indication of how much of the content and advertising is really reaching the target audience and what the returns are for the spends. A two-way interactive medium can rectify this.
"In addition to the obvious benefit that will come to the consumers, this offering will also benefit the media industry at large," explains Ravi Venkatesan, chairman, Microsoft India. "Whether it is the content providers, the platform owners or the advertisers, they will get better value for their money. This is critical for the long term growth and sustenance of the television industry."
This service will give viewers control on home entertainment as well as Internet enabled information and communication services on an 'Always On' basis.