Update: (Nikhil Pahwa) The portal is going to be hosted at India.com, a domain which MMC bought last year, ContentSutra reports; we’ve confirmed the same from our sources as well. We hope that MMC brings more to the table than just the domain name: it’s rumored to be a horizontal portal, and that should be interesting. India.com looks rather basic at present. A horizontal hasn’t been launched in India for quite a while, with firms choosing to launch social networks and verticals over the past few years. By the way, does anyone remember Indya.com?
Earlier (Feb 23rd): Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, a subsidiary of Essel (Zee) Group, has inked a joint venture with US based digital media firm Mail.com Media Corporation (MMC), which will be launching an entertainment website in the near future. MMC’s portfolio of websites includes Mail.com, Hollywoodlife, OnCars, Movieline, Deadline, Fan, Young Hollywood Awards, Hollywood Style Awards and Fashion Rocks. The new portal will apparently offer users “exciting entertainment viewing options and other leading portal applications”: could this mean video widgets like Star Player? Websites are planned for Internet and Mobile, perhaps Indian counterparts for MMCs US focused portals. The official launch is expected to be announced in a few months.
Arvindra Kanwal, who was most recently Chief Revenue Officer at SMSGupshup.com, the push SMS based Mobile social network, has been roped in as Chief Executive Officer of the new venture. Prior to that, Kanwal was Chief Revenue Officer (Media) at Rediff.com, and has also worked with Sony Entertainment Television and Indian Express Online Media Ltd. Kanwal is currently serving his notice period, and will join the JV in a months time.
Note that this is Zee’s second venture in the digital space. It’s previous digital venture was Cornershop Entertainment, which included three subsidiaries – Cornershop Animation, Digital Media Convergence Limited (DMCL, which owned MyPopKorn.com, Spice Zee and ISEE), and Re-Med Sevices – was shifted to another Zee group entity ETC Networks in December last year. The merger will be effective from March 31, 2010. MediaNama had previously written about DMCLs restructuring plans, and earlier today reported that Ishwar Jha, former DMCL CEO and Head of Digital Services for ZEEL has resigned and is planning to start up.
Zee’s Renewed Digital Focus
ZEEL had hinted at this increased focus on digital in its quarterly earnings, when Goenka had said that it was consolidating its holdings across genres as it readies “for a digital environment that would operate with very different dynamics as compared to today.” The company is expected to complete its restructuring of six Hindi GEC channels from sister company Zee News into itself by next month.