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Rediff.com  » Business » Telcos look to join the IPL

Telcos look to join the IPL

April 06, 2009 13:42 IST
If you are not travelling to South Africa for the second season of the DLF Indian Premier League (IPL) or cannot spend much time before the television, don't fret. This time, the game will be also played on mobile phones.

Vodafone Essar plans to provide a television-like experience on mobile phones through cellcast of clippings of five to 20 seconds of the important events of a day's matches. These include replays of the fall of wickets, sixes and fours, a batsman reaching a century, as well as bloopers on the field.

The GSM service provider is an associate sponsor of this year's IPL, and is therefore not aligning with a team.

The company has exclusive rights to video clippings of the tournament, slated to begin in South Africa on April 18.

"We are getting a substantial amount of airtime over one channel and we will use this to promote our products and services and gain maximum eyeballs from it," Vodafone Essar marketing and new business director Harit Nagpal told Business Standard.

However, Nagpal declined to provide the financial terms of the association with IPL, citing non-disclosure agreements.

BPL Mobile Communications, now Loop Mobile, is another company gearing up to cash in on IPL. The company, a single-circle operator, has not tied up with any of the players, but is geared up to provide a spectrum of services to its over 2 million subscribers.

"Cricket is so popular in the country and IPL has glorified it further. We will also provide a range of services such as player and team profiles, live scores and other trivia over all channels including voice, text and MMS services," Loop Mobile Vice-President (VAS & Devices) Sunzay Passari said.

However, the company is banking on unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) services. An interactive service, it works on a menu-driven application, and does not need the user to send any key words or short codes. Response times for USSD services are faster than those used for SMS.

Aditya Birla Group's telecom service provider Idea Cellular is close to signing a deal with Reliance Industries-owned Mumbai Indians, and the company is working out the details.

Confirming this, Idea Cellular Chief Marketing Officer Pradeep Shrivastava said, "We will announce it once the deal is signed." The operator is looking to provide both voice- and data-based services.

How much impact will all these things have on revenue? According to Passari, it's difficult to predict, even though he said there would be a "substantial increase" in traffic and revenues. "But, more than revenues, it's providing additional services and gaining subscriber loyalty," he adds.  

Along with the service providers, mobile value-added service providers are also in the game. For example, SMS GupShup is gearing up for mobile fan engagements, like providing IPL fixtures over mobile phones, and setting up chat portals that can be accessed through mobile phones.

"There will be IPL-based games that can be downloaded and played over mobile phones, quiz programmes for which answers can be sent to a short code (charged at Rs 3 an SMS), while we will also auction autographs of players and other cricket memorabilia," SMS GupShup CEO Beerud Sheth said.

SMS GupShup says it reaches out to 17 million people in the country.
Rajesh S Kurup in Mumbai
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