UTV to power digital presence of celebrities

By Kapil Ohri , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | July 29, 2010
The company will tie up with film and sports celebrities across India and create dedicated websites, video and audio blogs and mobile applications for them

UTV New Media, the digital arm of the UTV Group, has ventured into the business of creating and managing digital presences of celebrities in India. The company will tie up with various film and sports celebrities across India to create dedicated websites, video and audio blogs and mobile applications for them. For instance, it has launched a website, JohnAbraham.com, for Bollywood actor John Abraham.

& #BANNER1 & #"Either individual websites will be created for each celebrity or a single website will be developed for a group of personalities who have mass appeal. The content will be created by the celebrity in association with the UTV team," says Manish Agarwal, chief executive officer, UTV New Media, in a conversation with afaqs!.

He adds, "To begin with, UTV New Media has tied up with 18 celebrities, including Lara Dutta, Celina Jaitley, Rima Sen, Riya Sen, Mahesh Bhupati and Sania Mirza and will create audio blogs of all. However, it is still not ascertained whether we will launch the individual websites for all of them."

The digital identities of celebrities, powered by UTV, will be separate from their Facebook and Twitter presences. However, there are plans to integrate the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the celebrities with their websites.

"The digital presence created by celebrities through UTV will be focused on their real life, instead of reel life," Agarwal indicates. The company has no plans to use the websites just as sources of distributing pictures and wallpapers. However, celebrities will be allowed to use the digital platform backed by UTV to market their movies or events.

The company plans to monetise the digital presences through advertisements and sponsorships. It will also use them to sell celebrity merchandise.

In case of making the celebrity content available through mobile applications, users will have to bear the cost of downloading the content or application. Audio blogs will be offered on monthly subscription charges basis. Revenue earned by UTV from this endeavour will be shared between the company and the respective celebrity.

Agarwal declined to comment on the revenue expectation from this new line of business.