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Monday, October 20, 2008

WorldSpace Goes Bust


WorldSpace Inc., a pioneer in the field of Satellite Radio has filed for bankruptcy. WorldSpace carved a name for itself providing quality music devoid of commercials. It targetted a premium audience and charged an annual subscription fee. Listeners also had to buy a compatible radio set to enjoy their programmes. The Carnatic music channel offered by WorldSpace was quite popular as there were no other competing offerings in Radio (FM etc) in this niche space. KL Radio, a Tamil channel from the stable of Dinamalar, was also available on WorldSpace. WorldSpace also caught the attention of the public by roping in ARR as their brand ambassador. ARR’s signature tune brought instant recognition to WorldSpace.

Digital satellite radio broadcasting company, WorldSpace Inc, has filed for bankruptcy protection in a court after failing to obtain new financing.

WorldSpace is present in over 130 countries worldwide. It launched its India services in 2000 with over 35 free-to-air channels. In 2002, it converted a few of its channels to pay and went completely pay in 2004. 

As at the end 2007, it had a customer base of over 1.6 lakh in India — over 93 per cent of its world-wide subscriber base.
 
It beams over 45 channels in India, most of which are branded ‘WorldSpace’ though a few are owned and operated by other players such as BBC, CNN, AIR and KL Radio. (Source: The Hindu Business Line)

From the beginning, I had my own reservations about the viability of a paid subscription model for commercial radio broadcasts in India. The hardware requirement was another drawback. In a market where FM channels reign supreme and where the FM feature is ubiquitous in mobile phones and car stereos, WorldSpace should have known that the writing was on the wall.

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3 Comments:

  • Damn....I love Worldspace and have 2 connections!!

    By Blogger Deaths Head Roy, at 2:25 AM  

  • Death Head Roy,
    I won't be surprised if some investor takes over the India operations. Otherwise, the customers will be really affected since their investment in the hardware will go down the drain.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 2:57 PM  

  • I also believe so. Someone will buy their operations. They will look to change the business model.

    Cool Sun

    By Anonymous coolsun, at 7:30 PM  

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