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Back on Air: Worldspace 2.0

Published: Oct 4, 2013 07:16:14 AM IST
Updated: Oct 4, 2013 11:41:11 AM IST

Venkataraman s, a Carnatic music fan who enjoyed his pilgrimages to the sabhas in Chennai, found himself in a ‘rasika’s heaven’ when, in 2005, his son installed a Worldspace Satellite Radio at home. He spent hundreds of hours listening to curated, ad-free, DVD-quality songs till December 2010, when Worldspace shut shop.

Despite rumours of a revival, nothing happened till Saregama, part of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group, tied up with Timbre Media, founded by former Worldspace employees, to relaunch the brand.

But this time Worldspace will not be on satellite radio. Although it had 4.5 lakh customers, and Indian operations were profitable, the parent company founded by Ethiopian-born lawyer Noah Samarah had closed operations due to financial difficulties. Its relaunch is planned for other platforms: Internet, direct-to-home sets and mobile phones.

Saregama tied up with Vodafone so that its customers could listen to 10 stations on monthly subscriptions, and later with Airtel for DTH. It launched apps for iPhone, Android, Windows and BlackBerry smartphones. Although these are now limited due to the number of channels, the potential is huge.

But competition is fierce outside the satellite radio space (which locks a customer to the device).

As for Venkataraman, he has shifted to another service called Carnatic Radio, launched by music enthusiasts from Singapore, which streams ad-free music 24x7. “Worldspace radio had over 40 stations but I mostly listened to just Shruti [the Carnatic music station]. I have moved on,” he says.

(This story appears in the 18 October, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Murali

    I pine for the good ol\' days of World space when nothing mattered in life other than the pure hifi ad-free music. I was a junkie and could sit listening to World space for hours late into the night.A part of my life ceased to exist with the winding up of World space.I feel wistful and feel lost and awful as those golden years are never going to come back.Thanks Samarah you made life worth living for some years.

    on May 30, 2016
  • Sriram Acharya

    When is the satellite based Worldspace radio device coming up again? It was the best thing I felt in life which gives me my space of music.

    on Feb 28, 2016
  • Ashok Koul

    We are auctioning so many fm channels is not there anyone who can acquire the rights for world space satellite radio and revive it to the same glory as it was in 2009. It is a pity and shame for us especially those who are in the business of media. I sincerely pray and beg to those who can revive it.

    on Sep 3, 2015
  • Vilas Nair

    World space radio was just apt for the mood swings, super digital sound, longing to listen to sound once again.

    on Sep 2, 2015
  • Kamal Baruaha

    It was a phenomenal piece of device that I have invested .It was simply amazing.Miss those days.Looking forward for world space to relaunch it again.

    on Jul 20, 2015
  • Darayus J.m.

    World Space Radio was simply fantastic.Just awaiting for it to restart. Since last five years being without it makes me feel lost. Apps of mobile don't serve the purpose. The quality of sound on mobiles is not so great,and buffering is disturbing.

    on Jun 26, 2015
  • D N Kumar

    I was a world space radio subscriber till it was closed. now i want to join in such organisation which entertains with music like world space

    on Jun 13, 2015
  • Sham Pawaskar

    i was a subscriber of worldspace radio upto 2009. i am eager to join again

    on Apr 11, 2015
  • Dwij

    I think Worldspace radio was the most fantastic device. I used to love the variety of channels available, needless to say the quality of sound was extraordinary and there being no ads was always welcome. And no matter how heavily it poured even in a place like Mumbai, the service never suffered. I was heartbroken when they stopped the service.

    on May 11, 2014