Louise Duffy ©RapidTVNews | 22-08-2011

Broadband solutions provider Verismo Networks has launched Mela, a global multi-platform consumer entertainment service specialising in premium South Asian video content.
Mela will provide dozens of live television channels covering news and entertainment, hundreds of Bollywood and regional movies, with an increasing selection in HD, and selected premium videos from the internet. It aims to become the largest licensor of premium South Asian video content in the world.

The service will be distributed exclusively via the internet for consumers to watch on their televisions. Mela will provide customers with a HD set-top box developed by its parent company, Verismo Networks.

At present Mela's content partners include Yash Raj Films, Eros International, ETV Network, Shemaroo Entertainment, Times Global Broadcasting, Raj Television Network, Maa Television Network and Jaya TV. It is in discussions with other potential partners.

Mela plans to later roll out its service on all major platforms including PCs, mobile phones and devices, video gaming consoles, internet connected televisions, internet connected Blu-ray players, and other popular over-the-top devices and set-top boxes.

Verismo Networks chairman and CEO Prakash Bhalerao said: "The Mela service marks a key milestone for the company as we enter into the consumer entertainment space by leveraging our expertise in enabling broadband entertainment through our globally deployed platform. We are extremely pleased to launch this service for the benefit of the expatriate South Asian community worldwide who miss enjoying quality entertainment from their native countries in the comfort of their living room."

Sab Kanaujia, general manager of Mela and president of entertainment services at Verismo Networks, said: "Mela aims to solve the global distribution problem for highly popular and widely followed South Asian entertainment content. This breakdown in global distribution has resulted in rampant piracy that costs the industry billions of dollars in lost revenue every year. Mela, for the first time, brings together key content partners, distribution platforms, and a quality user experience to provide ardent fans of South Asian entertainment an extremely convenient and compelling legal offering at an attractive price."

Anand Gurnani, general manager – digital & new media at Yash Raj Films, added: "Our primary objective is to deliver entertainment through all legitimate touch-points. We are supportive of a digital distribution endeavour like Mela that enables us to reach out to audiences, who perhaps have limited access to quality Indian films."

At launch, Mela will offer over 40 popular live television channels covering news and entertainment, with a focus on Tamil and Telugu languages. Mela's on-demand movie offering at launch will include over 250 hit titles in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil languages. Regional live television channel packages in Tamil and Telugu will each be available for $9.99 per month. Two premium channels in Tamil and Telugu will be available at $14.99 per month per channel. Mela will offer an on-demand movie service at only $4.99 per month. Subscribers will be able to watch as many movies as they want, including a growing list of HD titles, for that fixed monthly subscription price.

Mela will also offer a bundled package in which it will include its HD set-top-box with a content package including over 40 live television channels and 500+ movies available on demand for an introductory launch price of just $149 for the first year of service.

Mela has established partnerships for local distribution of its service through a network of local retail distributors throughout the US, focusing on the country's major hubs of South Asian population.

Mela will be launched globally in markets outside the US in a phased manner starting later this year.