Interview with Mr. Deepak Gupta, VP Sales, Apalya Technologies

Apalya Technologies is India's leading white-label content aggregation, provisioning and distribution platform in the Mobile Video Delivery space. Apalya's mobile video delivery platform seamlessly streams video content to consumers, integrating Mobile Operators, Content owners and Mobile advertisers, creating new revenue streams across the New Media value chain.

Excerpts from the email interview with Mr. Deepak Gupta, Vice-President, Sales Apalya Technologies.

Q. Last year, Indian Premier League(IPL) helped you to cross the 3 million subscriber base, what’s your strategy this year for the World Cup ?

A. We intend to use it as a customer acquisition event similar to IPL. Cricket is a great passion for India and demand for Live TV shows significant uptake during cricket events

Q. On one hand, broadcasters believe that they should take charge of revenue as they are familiar with the TV business. They have established relationships with content producers, and often have access to physical broadcast networks. Telecommunication service providers, on the other hand, say that they understand the business of mobile devices. They also have distribution channels for mobile TV receivers, which are often integrated into mobile phones, and have service contracts and billing relationships with mobile customers. 
Q.How do you see the issue of revenue sharing being sorted out between broadcasters and telcos?

A)   A.The crux of the solution lies in micro-charging. As long as we need to charge the consumer at price points of Rs.5-50 for accessing the content, we will be dependent on telecom operators for that billing and collection. As long as telcos are the single option available for micro-transactions, they will remain the dominant partner in this relationship.

Q Nearly 96 percent of the country's mobile sector comprises prepaid subscribers who are primarily low-average revenue users, how big a challenge is this for Mobile TV? 

A   This is a significant challenge and we have dealt with this by evolving sachet pricing that will induce customers to use the service and become comfortable. We have seen a good conversion of users from the trial packages to the paid service

Q Is the Mobile TV service a bit ahead of its time given the fact that telecom operators would prefer to first use the 3G spectrum for voice services  (as spectrum availability is a constraint ) and, thereafter, for value-added services such as mobile TV?

A.We are working with almost all the operators who have obtained 3G license. Mobile TV is the biggest focus for the success of 3G services for them. So we don’t think that the operators are ignoring this product in 3G

Q.Barring news and sports channels, don’t you think mobisodes are a better way of promoting General Entertainment Channels (like Star Plus, ZEE TV, Sony, NDTV Imagine etc.) on Mobile TV rather than paying for the whole channel ?

A.Mobisodes are an expensive product to create and the cost of creation at this point of time is not going to be recovered from the nascent market for Mobile TV. It is better for the content providers to provide LIVE feed at this point of time to elicit customer interest.

Q The two business models available for Mobile TV are subscription based and free-to-air model. In the former, the subscriber pays a subscription to view pay channels and this is the main source of revenue for the mobile TV service operator. In the free-to-air model, the revenues accrue from carriage fees charged for the channels the operator carries. While in the west the pay channel model has been used, Asian countries seem to have preferred the free to air model. Which one do you think would work well in India?

A.We will have to see how the industry evolves over a period of time. It is still too early to say which model is going to be the more successful model in India