Kiran Kulkarni

Kiran Kulkarni

BSE listed digital applications and services company Geodesic Ltd is entering the content aggregation business with a rather ambitious project called FilmOrbit. Currently live in alpha, FilmOrbit is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2010, Geodesic CEO Kiran Kulkarni told MediaNama. This appears to be the “Bollywood project” that we’d first heard murmurs of in May.

According to Kulkarni, FilmOrbit will initially offer on-demand access to entertainment content on the PC and mobile platforms, but eventually plans to adapt to set top boxes, connected Blu-Ray players, etc.” At the core of the service, is an IMDB-like site for Bollywood information.

Geodesic owns a majority stake in the FilmOrbit joint venture, which has been inked with US-based entertainment executives. The company is also looking to hire a CEO. Initially, it will be an India-focused venture, but “It is basically the platform being built, and then we’ll expand,” Kulkarni adds.

The FilmOrbit Model
geodesic-filmorbitFilmOrbit is going to license audio and video content, which will be delivered via multiple platforms including – Mundu Radio, Mundu TV and FilmOrbit.com. The content will be tagged, and the FilmOrbit database will enable discovery of more content by providing users inputs on the film, singer, songwriter etc. Monetization will be through content subscription services, as well as options to buy a DVD, VCD, Digital Music, Digital Movie, or rent a Digital Movie or a DVD, or stream music or video, or even watch the movie on TV. As one can imagine, the kind of content and commerce deals that will be needed to be inked are unprecedented.

According to Kulkarni, FilmOrbit’s primary focus is on content and people discovery, consumption and enabling the best user experience. Social media integration with Facebook and MySpace, as well as integration of Mundu platforms like Mundu IM and Mundu SMS will also enable content discovery. “We will offer options for the user to consume the same content from a competitor if one is available, for example, partner with iTunes and Last.fm to offer audiences in US and UK those options from our content pages.”

Mundu TV & Integrating Platforms For Distribution

Geodesic will look to distribute the content via their own products, and is also open to co-branding and white labelling, according to Kulkarni.

Content owners have told MediaNama that Geodesic has approached them for a Mobile TV application. According to Kulkarni, FilmOrbit will offer on-demand entertainment content to all platforms. “Mundu TV is specifically (broadcast) TV on the mobile and desktop platforms, and will be focused on delivering whatever TV content is available (news, business news, sports, entertainment etc). Everything except entertainment content will be offered on demand. Entertainment channels will carry a ‘Programmed by FilmOrbit’ branding, and FilmOrbit.com will support MunduTV as one of many consumption options, but will focus on promoting the entertainment bouquet on Mundu TV.”

Mundu Radio will work for music – Music On Demand and Livestreaming. This will be across the mobile phone, FilmOrbit and a client on the desktop. There will also be a single subscription and login across platforms. The integration with Mundu IM will allow users to share it on their status message, and enable others to listen to it on downloading the software. Geodesic is also working on an integrated product stack, which will include Mundu Radio, Mundu IM, Mundu TV among others. The company claims to have more than 2 million mobile users for Mundu IM and Mundu Radio.

Content Deals

Of the labels and associations, FilmOrbit is in talks with entities like IPRS, PPL, T-Series. The deals, Kulkarni says, “are surprisingly something of a mix: a lot of people want to do revenue share. IPRS and PPL are doing minimum guarantee. We’ll obviously do these deals and transactions, and move forward. The whole idea is to provide wholesome solutions to people, as against just technology tools.”

But why would labels like T-Series would work with them? Kulkarni said that there’s always space for a good aggregator. “Music is one part of the experience. We’re already working with Hungama for Idea Radio. We’ll obviously do things that are without bias, like in the case of Hulu.”

Monetization

In terms of payment mechanisms, Kulkarni said that they have Paypal and credit cards. “We’re trying to work our way through mobile payments and go to some aggregators, to see if we can have it integrated into carrier billing. We do power Idea Radio, and have recently tied up with Dialog Telecom in Sri Lanka.”

“We’ll stream content on the mobile phones, with a subscription model for the radio as a product. There will be consumption options for buying a song or a film,” says Kulkarni. “We’re still trying to work out if the advertising model works well, or a subscription per song or per channel works well. TV, we’re very clear, that it will be a bouquet of channels – possibly, 2 news channels, 2 sports channels. We will also provide ad-supported options for a subset of the video content.  Download-to-own will be supported once we acquire the rights for a large enough catalog.  The idea once again is to provide users with options, both from within our platform but also through other legal services that the user may prefer to consume content from. We want to be the central place where users discover and interact with content.”

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