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WorldSpace plans to offer mobility, new payment options

WorldSpace plans to offer mobility, new payment options
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First Published: Thu, Oct 23 2008. 12 03 AM IST

Ready for revamp: WorldSpace will change its logo and marketing slogan, but A.R. Rahman will continue to be its brand ambassador.
Ready for revamp: WorldSpace will change its logo and marketing slogan, but A.R. Rahman will continue to be its brand ambassador.
Updated: Thu, Oct 23 2008. 12 03 AM IST
New Delhi: The Indian subsidiary of US-based satellite radio provider WorldSpace Inc., WorldSpace India Pvt. Ltd plans to revamp services in the country, said a top official.
In its relaunched version, WorldSpace will be called “1worldspace.” It will sport a new logo and its current marketing slogan—So much to hear—will be changed. It is yet to decide on a new tag line.
Music composer A.R. Rahman will, however, continue to be its brand ambassador, said K.S. Murlidhar, brand head, WorldSpace India.
With around 200,000 subscribers, WorldSpace’s India operations account for at least 80% of the company’s business that comes from markets across Asia, Africa and some parts of Europe. It does not offer its services in the US.
Ready for revamp: WorldSpace will change its logo and marketing slogan, but A.R. Rahman will continue to be its brand ambassador.
In an effort to expand its user base, the firm is also cutting fees and offering new payment options that include “lifetime prepaid” and instalment plans, said Murlidhar.
“WorldSpace is much superior in terms of content but customers are not willing to pay Rs1,800 (a year) for strictly subscription and then have to deal with technical snags that are common to any satellite-based product,” said Murlidhar. “It is typical of Indian consumers who are willing to buy the best brand but not ready to invest in its upkeep. So we decided to tailor our offerings more in line with what people will find feasible.”
“We filed for bankruptcy to be able to access funds for our expansion plans. We also needed to repay debt for which we needed funds. Also by filing for bankruptcy protection, we wanted to thwart any hostile takeover bids,” Murlidhar said.
The company had filed for bankruptcy protection on 17 October in the US. It also sought court approval of a $13 million bankruptcy loan from a group of hedge funds to continue operations.
Besides the rebranding, the company plans to make its services mobile. It has applied for the mobility licence. Once that get through, the service will be available through data cards in portable devices.
WorldSpace plans to tie up with auto makers to offer the option of installing its radio in cars at the point of purchase.
Experts, however, are sceptical of the success of these initiatives and argue that WorldSpace will have to do a lot more to sustain its business.
“WorldSpace has not been able to maintain high quality content. Yes, they are different from FM as they have little talk and no advertisements but how are they different from an iPod or a personalized playlist?” asked Sunil Kumar, managing director at radio business consultancy Big River Radio (India) Pvt. Ltd. “They need to innovate and offer more surprises to the listener to keep the business going.”
WorldSpace Inc.’s net losses were $169.5 million in 2007 from $129 million in 2006. Its revenues fell 11.7% to $13.78 million in the same period.
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First Published: Thu, Oct 23 2008. 12 03 AM IST