This story was written by Rafat Ali.
NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) is close to launching a sports video site in India, focused on live streaming, we have learned. Sab Kanaujia, the VP of Digital Product Strategy & Development, confirmed as much in a tweet last week, and for now it is doing closed trials with cricket streaming there. The site is modeled on Hulu, at least in terms of full screen experience, something of a rarity in a still nascent-broadband Indian landscape; apparently the site is using some compression technology that will help in giving a good experience to Indian users on a lower speed network. Kanaujia was also involved in the early formation of Hulu at NBCU, so that experience helps in developing the site.
A report in Mint came out last month which mentioned that NBCU was in talks with Dubai-based sports channel Ten Sports for a deal, though it didn’t mention the new sports website. What’s not clear is if the NBC site will be related to NDTV Networks, the Indian TV conglomerate in which NBCU holds a 26 percent stake. NBCU recently opened up a digital solutions business in India, providing its tech infrastructure and experience developed U.S. to local Indian media companies and publishers. It also helped redesign NDTV’s flagship site NDTV.com.
Most of the Indian cricket tournaments have been webcast live for diaspora audiences outside India for a fee, on sites like Willow.tv, Rediff and others, but this is the first time a local Indian site will come out with live and on-demand video for local audiences in a big way. And considering cricket is the dominant sports in India, the site is likely to be cricket heavy, though I hope they do give attention to other sports like hockey (the Indian national sport, btw) and tennis, among others.
By Rafat Ali