Paramount gets mobile in India

Studio strikes deal with Hungama Mobile

SINGAPORE — Par’s new tech division, Paramount Digital Entertainment, has struck a deal with Hungama Mobile to develop and distribute Paramount-branded mobile and interactive content in India.

Move is seen as a sign that the studio, a late-bloomer in Asia, is getting serious about expansion in one of the world’s biggest growth markets. Hollywood movies have a market share less than 10% of total B.O. in the world’s second most populous nation.

Hungama Mobile gets access to a package of library, current and upcoming studio movies and is expected to develop a range of new media content that ties in with Par’s theatrical releases in India. Par and Hungama Mobile will also work closely with United International Pictures.

“This deal is really all about synergy and having Hungama Mobile do for us what they do for Bollywood releases,” Paramount Digital Entertainment VP, Interactive and Mobile Entertainment, Asia Pacific, Pradeep Mittur, said. “At this stage, this relationship is more about promotion of our movies, than trying to develop a new revenue stream.”

Hungama Mobile is expected to provide Par with ability to localize its campaigns for a market where Hollywood films come a long way behind local product. Capable of developing gaming and porting, content developed under the deal is initially expected to focus on rich media content, such as video ring tones, and text message (SMS) services, which Hungama Mobile will sell on through mobile carriers.

“Our success stems from the strength of Hungama Mobile’s digital distribution network and the numerous new applications and services that we successfully execute with all carriers in India and South Asia,” Hungama Mobile CEO, Neeraj Roy, said.

“We settled with Hungama Mobile after talking to all the top guys in India and finding a company that closely matched. Our content in India is all movies with no TV component, Hungama Mobile is specialized in developing products for movie promotions,” Mittur said.

Company claims to be the largest aggregator of Indian mobile and digital Entertainment content and have deals with more than 16 record labels, 20 studios and 130 original content owners.

PDE, headed by Thomas Lesinski, has only expanded beyond North America in the past year and Mittur joined PDE in March. Based in Singapore he is expected to strike similar deals with other providers around the Asia-Pacific region.

India’s mobile phone population is ballooning with some estimates putting growth at 8.5 million new cell-phone subscribers per month. Large proportion of subscriptions include Internet access, providing many Indians with their first web access on a phone rather than on a computer.

Hungama Mobile is unconnected with Hungama, an Indian children’s TV net now owned by Disney.

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