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US firm promises more Bollywood fare in 2008

US firm Saavn plans to roll out several new initiatives with two major industry partners in 2008 to make Bollywood films and music more accessible in North America.

business Updated: Dec 22, 2007 10:57 IST
Arun Kumar

A New York-based digital media company Saavn plans to roll out several new initiatives with two major industry partners in 2008 to make Bollywood films and music more accessible in North America.

A new venture with RCN, a premier cable TV, phone and internet service provider with its own advanced fibre-optic network, will add two special Bollywood packages to RCN's comprehensive video on demand selections.

Also starting next year, Boost Mobile will offer Bollywood ringtones directly on its mobile phones, a statement issued by Saavn said.

Saavn is now delivering a wide selection of Bollywood music videos and movies to over one million RCN customer connections in the Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington DC metropolitan areas.

In other partnerships to come in 2008, Saavn will also be addressing the piracy issue in the market and has plans to officially launch its website by midyear.

"2007 was filled with new partnerships and initiatives which expanded on our purpose to provide Bollywood content to all fans," said Vin Bhat, co-founder and general manager of Saavn.

"The consumer response has been overwhelming. People are enjoying the variety of movies from our growing network of studios and production company partners, plus we are the best in the business for Bollywood music. We are looking forward to providing an even bigger wave of Bollywood entertainment in 2008," he added.

In 2007, the company expanded the presence of Indian cinema and music by opening additional offices in Mumbai and London and forging new partnerships with the industry's leading media powerhouses.

Movie lovers in regions across the US are now able to order films on demand from both Hollywood and Bollywood. It has also made Bollywood films available in Toronto with Rogers Communications marking its first foray into Canada with the nation's largest cable provider.

Saavn also announced the availability of music content on Joost at www.Joost.com. The launch included full-length hit Bollywood music videos available for immediate streaming.

The company expanded its reach with Time Warner Cable to include areas such as Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin and Cleveland. Cable giant Cox Communications also linked up with Saavn and covered markets such as Fairfax (Virginia), Phoenix, Orange County and San Diego.

Saavn partnered with many community events across the US during 2007. The largest were the Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival in New York and the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. Time Warner Cable sponsored both events.

Saavn also partnered with the Bollywood Group in May and November to sponsor the Bollywood Movie Awards and the Bollywood Music and Fashion Awards.

In addition to content, Saavn focused on developing innovative, mutually beneficial partnerships in the community to create awareness for both on-demand services and support reputable cultural organisations and will be continuing this effort in 2008, the statement said.

Other major initiatives launched in 2007 included partnerships and campaigns with iTunes, Verizon Wireless and Verizon FiOS.

Now that Saavn's content is available on the music industry's most popular platform for digital downloads, everyone can enjoy Indian music on their own iPods or computers by just going to the link www.saavn.com/itunes, it said.

Saavn has partnered with Verizon Wireless for a new contest where one lucky Verizon winner will be selected to fly to India to meet Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan. The winner will be announced at the end of February and posted on www.saavn.com/verizon.

Through a separate agreement with Verizon FiOS TV, a leader in delivering Video on Demand, Saavn will offer FiOS TV customers access to some of the best Bollywood music videos, television shows and major motion pictures.

The multi-year deal includes an opportunity for passionate Bollywood fans to subscribe monthly to current and previous music videos, television shows and movies or purchase the titles individually.

Other new campaigns launched in 2007 included Festival of Colors, Summer of Love and Holiday Dreams. These campaigns were centred on major South Asian holidays such as Holi, Eid and Diwali.