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Five startups that would cheer digitisation of TV

Mandatory digitisation of television signals starting with the four metros is not about big broadcasters and giant cable operators and DTH service providers alone. It also has spinout benefits for tech startups that offer ancillary services for consumer surrounding it. Here’s a random selection of five startups that will gain from it:

Whats-on-India: Mumbai based What’s-On-India is a TV search and Electronic Program Guide (EPG). What’s On India Media Pvt Ltd (originally set up as Aarohan Media Software Pvt Ltd) was founded by Atul Phadnis in 2005 and the company launched India’s first consumer TV guidance channel– What’s On India. It is backed by Nexus Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital. Its technology vertical powers EPG metadata content for more than 500 TV channels and into set top boxes and devices across cable, DTH, IPTV and mobile TV. The digitisation of TV means more EPGs needed, which in turn means growth.

BrizzTv: It is a Bangalore-based digital media startup that brings web content onto the television screen without internet connectivity. For such value-added content providers, this move is good news since it will mean more set top boxes and customers. Founded by Amarendra Sahu, Jitendra Jagadev and Krishnan Varadarajan, BrizzTV Media Lab Pvt Ltd is backed by Ojas Ventures.

According to Jitendra Jagadev, co-founder and COO of BrizzTV, digitisation is positive news for the eco-system of the startups in the DTH industry. “Large cable companies like Hathway, DEN, etc. will migrate to pure digital set top boxes having conditional access systems (CAS) in them. This will be beneficial for the startups providing value-added services (VAS) that only work on the set top box,” he said.

iDubba: Three-and-a-half year old iNiD Digimedia Pvt Ltd (a Morpheus gang company which has raised angel funding from Rajan Anandan and others) run iDubba is a platform that brings social element to TV shows, by letting viewers discover shows based on their profile likes and dislikes. In order to get alerted about their programmes of choice, iDubba has a built-in recommendation engine and an alerts platform called iAlerts. The recommendations are based on a technology which matches users’ taste with programmes he/she might be interested in watching. It uses interactivity to engage users and for every activity on iDubba users gain some points. At the end of month iDubba distributes TV credits based on a user’s position in the leader board. TV credits can be redeemed (every month) to win free DTH recharges, DTH connections or even LCD TVs.

Freecharge: The online recharge company, Freecharge, offers DTH recharge and one of the direct benefits include an uptake in DTH connections that they support. Run by Mumbai-based Accelyst Solutions Pvt Ltd, Freecharge was founded two years ago and offers recharge coupons for mobile phones, DTH TV and Internet data cards. Recharge companies like it may also be a big beneficiary if digital cable providers start allowing online recharge of monthly rental, which is currently collected by local cablewallahs or neighbourhood representatives of the larger cable service providers.

On their options to benefit from the move, Kunal Shah, founder and CEO, Sequoia Capital-backed Freecharge said, “Earlier, cable operators chose to go door to door to collect their payments. Now that customers will have official info like subscriber ids, etc., cable operators will also look for other payment collection mediums- and that is where we come in,” he said.

Radiowalla: Founded earlier this year, online radio network Radiowalla offers the radio experience on the go. Through its new mobile phone apps on Android (other platforms coming soon) it is trying to introduce this novel concept to Indian audience. Already some radio channels are available for screening on both DTH and digital cable platform and such an association can’t be ruled out for Radiowalla through various cable operators, which would catapult it since it is currently tied to internet usage.

Anil Srivatsa, co-founder and CEO of Ojas Ventures-backed Radiowalla said, “While we are in talks to broadcast our content on TV using the set top boxes, I feel that this move is very positive on many levels for the industry as a whole. Particularly for radio, it is a common phenomenon in the US. I have experience in the same now and I am looking to leverage that for the Indian audience as well,” he said.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)