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Watch customised election news on your TV
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Now, watch customised election news on your TV. Big TV, a Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group venture, is launching election-based interactive services that will be provided by its content partner CNN-IBN. Big TV users can avail of iNews, a value-added service, allowing them to access current news and information, short text-based stories, headlines and tickers which are powered by content from CNN-IBN.

Sameer Manchanda, joint managing director, IBN18 Network, says that iNews will customise news for individual viewers: Those wanting the headlines only can select that section, while those wanting sports only can go for the sports bulletins.

The services will be widened later to services like cooking, astrology, stocks and cricket. Big TV, however, has tough competition. Interactive services are big business now, with research showing that families are spending an estimated 20 per cent of their TV viewing time on educational games, astrology or spiritual content. That explains the move by almost all direct-to-home providers (DTH) to beef up this service to capture eyeballs.

Tata Sky, which has 3.5 million subscribers, reaches out to half a million of them through interactive applications alone. Vikram Mehra, chief marketing officer, Tata Sky, says this segment could be a game changer for the DTH industry.

Taking the kid's interactive service seriously, Tata Sky even has a panel of eminent educationalists who help in designing engaging curriculum for kids.

Tata Sky provides educational interactive content at Rs 300 per annum to its subscribers. Active Stories (available in eight different languages), Active whiz kid for 3-6 year age group where languages such as Maths and English, along with arts, craft, nursery rhymes are available in karaoke mode, Active learning for 7-12 year age group and Active topper. Mehra has numbers to support his claims, "In terms of usage, the average time spent by a child on edutainment applications is about 66 minutes per day," he says.

Since innovation is the name of the game, Tata Sky's 80-member team in Bangalore does research on programmes that run on its interactive platform .

According to TAM Media research, the agency that measures television viewership, the channel share of Dishtv's interactive channel 999 in certain weeks was higher than that of CNN-IBN, CNN, UTVi, NewsX, and a few niche channels. Salil Kapoor, COO, Dishtv says the interactive application provides an opportunity to service providers as well as brands to reach out to the consumer in an interactive manner where they can almost touch and feel the product.

Information can be customised and is focused for audiences who are either opinion leaders or decision makers." Dishtv is also working with movie production houses to promote new releases and air movie trailers on its interactive channel.

Bharti-Airtel too is gearing up to strengthen its interactive gaming for children, as the summer break is just round the corner. An Airtel Digital TV spokesperson says it provides six games on its interactive platform, refreshing them on a monthly basis, but will add three more to keep up with the vacation demand.

"All the interactive services including games are available to customers who recharge with value greater than the Super Value pack (Rs. 99, about 75 channels)," the spokesperson says.

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