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Eros to acquire controlling stake in Techzone

MUMBAI: Eros International is acquiring controlling stake in Universal Power Systems, the company which operates Techzone, as it seeks to pump up its ErosNow service  with outlook in 4G play brightening in India ahead of Reliance Industries’ (RIL) Jio launch.

Eros has signed a term sheet agreement with Universal Power Systems for an undisclosed sum.

Launched in 1999 by Naveen Bhandari, Techzone provides mobile value-added services (VAS) for telecom operators based in India. It acts as an aggregator, developer and distributor of entertainment content.

jyoti_deshpande“Techzone will be a strong addition to our ErosNow strategy where content meets technology and distribution,” said Eros MD and CEO Jyoti Deshpande. “With Techzone’s billing integration and distribution in place across major telecom operators and average transaction traffic of over 25 million monthly over the past three years, we expect this deal to complement our existing ErosNow service. With 870 million mobile subscribers (including over 60 million internet-enabled smartphones) in India as of year-end 2013, this is an exciting space for us.”

ErosNow is a dedicated online entertainment service. It provides access to Eros’ Bollywood film library as well as music videos, audio tracks and original programming. It also represents the group’s overall digital brand with all-digital content branded as such across the group’s website, YouTube and Twitter pages and the company’s entertainment application.

The service, which caters for both premium and standard users, offers ad-supported free content as well as premium on-demand content via mobile services. This is where the company will look at synergy with Techzone.

Techzone is particularly focused on the Bollywood film and music markets, and has extensive region-specific content in Tamil and Telugu. The company has relationships and billing integration with major telecom networks in India to distribute its content and also has its own mobile short code 56060.

Techzone makes its content available to end-users via various methods such as caller ringback tones (CRBT), mobile radio, SMS, wireless application protocol (WAP) and interactive voice response (IVR).

Techzone claims to have had an average of 25 million SMS, WAP or IVR transactions per month over the past three years across 12 major telecom operators in India, for which it bills the customers directly through its billing platform. This excludes CRBT transactions which are also marketed and distributed by Techzone but billed by the telecom operators directly. In a given month, a single customer may engage in multiple transactions.

Techzone MD and CEO Naveen Bhandari commented, “This is indeed a proud moment for Techzone to align with a market leader such as Eros. The consumption of content through mobile platforms is on the increase and the timing of this alliance could not have been better.”

ErosNow’s play

Eros-NowThe service aims to target the newer-generation South Asians across the globe. The company expects to gain traction in subscription from 3G and 4G. It also has inked tie-ups with UTV and Viacom18 to add Bollywood movie titles to their catalogue.

ErosNow has also partnered digital payment platform Tappp (www.tappp.com) to launch ErosNow prepaid cards to enable cash purchase of Bollywood movies on ErosNow.

ErosNow is currently available on the web, iOS, Android, Google TV and Amazon Kindle.