The Zee Group, among India’s largest media houses, and Geodesic Ltd, a digital solutions company, have formed a new company called ITM Digital Private Ltd to offer applications for delivery of content to mobile and Internet devices. The joint venture, which has been inked between Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) and Geodesic, will be headquartered in Mumbai. MediaNama had reported the incorporation of ITM Digital in May 2010.

So what should be expect from this partnership?

– On Demand content: IITM Digital will launch Internet TV on the mobile, desktop and the web, streaming 20 live platforms and several on-demand video channels. The application will allow consumers to discover, and schedule content.
– ZEEL has rights to over 3000 movie titles, and over 80,000 hours of TV content.

Remember that Zee has tried to do both technology and content by itself in the past, and the initiative just didn’t take off: DMCL launched a mobile content service with BSNL called ISEE, which just didn’t off. Last we checked, around a year ago, DMCL was restructuring and looking to raise funds. Zee also has an Internet focused partnership with Mail.com for an Internet focused venture, with Arvindra Kanwal at the helm.

Our Reading Of The Geodesic-ZEEL Partnership

Geodesic already has the tools for streaming and discovery of content – they’ve been piloting Mundu.tv for a while now (there’s a free download here). They also have an IMDB-like service called FilmOrbit, which has been in alpha for 10 months now. FilmOrbit has extensive tagging and categorization of content, and is likely to be used to enable discovery of content. The partnership is clearly about Zee’s content (the biggest recurring cost for a platform service provider) and Geodesic’s technology. ITM will also look to also partner with other properties within the Zee group, which should be a cinch.

To be honest, we’re quite surprised by this deal for two reasons:

1. Content deals are often on a revenue share basis: whether online or mobile streaming, content owners have realized that minimum guarantees usually lead to unsustainable business – example: Tinselvision, JumpTV. So Geodesic could have looked to strike similar deals with companies.

2. Platforms with vested media interests (Geodesic-Zee) might find it difficult to partner with other media companies.

Note that this isn’t necessarily the rule – the Time Audience Network from the Times of India services content from multiple media companies – but content partners might prefer an independent entity like Apalya or iStream. The other alternative, if course, is content owners will care more for distribution, and if Geodesic is able to ink distribution deals on the basis of their partnership with Zee, other content owners might not want to miss out.

The timing of this announcement is also significant – on the platform side, private telecom operators in India are looking to launch 3G and Broadband Wireless Access services, and they’ll need content for streaming.

Related:

Geodesic & Content
Geodesic Enters Bollywood Content Aggregation Space With FilmOrbit JV
Dialog Telekom Launches Music Station Powered By Geodesic; Mundu IM Now On IPhone OS
Geodesic Earnings Call: Mundu TV In India, Chandamama’s Interactive Books, Spokn’s Delay

Zee & Digital

Updated: ZEE Inks JV With Mail.com For Entertainment Portal; Arvindra Kanwal CEO
ZEEL Digital Head Ishwar Jha Resigns; Starting Up?
Zee Group Digital Co DMCL To Restructure, Raise Funds