Reliance Communications Ltd. and Microsoft Corp. have announced a strategic partnership to deliver a highly connected, personalised TV experience to consumers in India through Reliance's Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service, which will be powered by the Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV software platform.
The announcement was made by Reliance Communications Chairman Anil D Ambani and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at a press event Monday, 5 November, in Mumbai.
Reliance Communications will have exclusive deployment rights for the platform in India. Reliance's IPTV service, powered by the Microsoft Mediaroom platform, will allow Reliance to deliver connected, personalised TV experiences for Indian consumers 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), as well as enjoy a "connected entertainment experience" that will soon allow them to watch their favourite shows on their TV or PC. The service will launch by March 2008.
"As consumers today are becoming more sophisticated, they are demanding more compelling and personalised entertainment to suit their individual needs and preferences", said Ambani. "Until now, TV has been a broadcast, 'one-size-fits-all' experience. Backed by powerful Microsoft Mediaroom software, IPTV promises to offer our subscribers more choice, control and convenience, and at the end of the day, a unique and more satisfying user experience".
"Reliance is about to change the way consumers experience television", said Ballmer. "TV is the only major digital device that has been left out of the networking revolution, and Microsoft and Reliance are now making the TV a first-class citizen in the connected entertainment landscape. By connecting the TV to an intelligent two-way network and adding powerful software, new connected and personalised experiences will become possible here in India".
The IPTV service will also target an area with a great degree of ambiguity, as far as TV content and advertising goes in India. There is, at present, no clear indication of how much of the content and advertising is really reaching the target audience and what the returns for the investments are. 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", said Ravi Venkatesan, chairman of 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".
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