Exclusive: A little over a year after it was formed, the India.com joint venture between the Zee Group and Mail.com, has begun rolling out properties: among them, a Cricket focused property called CricketCountry, was launched just in time for the ICC Cricket World Cup, OnCars.in, a video review site for cars, an education focused portal called IndianColleges.com, and most interestingly, Tamil.India.com, in time for the elections in Tamil Nadu. From what we’ve heard from sources, India.com also plans to launch a movies focused site called Bollywood Life (on the lines of Hollywood Life), a gadget and technology site called BGR.in (on the lines of BGR.com).

India.com & Language Focus

When contacted by MediaNama, India.com CEO Arvindra Kanwal said that the company plans to launch India.com as well, but declined to share a timeframe. All these individual channels will be aggregated at India.com. “Most portals are aggregators,” he said, and hosting separate properties gives each brand a chance to develop.” Language will be a key focus for India.com, and in time for the state assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, the site has launched Tamil.India.com. Kanwal was hesitant to speak about how many people they have on board covering the elections, saying only that they’ve got a large pool of contributors, and people who go out in the field to cover the elections, and a team of copy editors. Kanwal says that the entity will not be looking at content tie-ups, but will focus on doing original content. The Bengali site may go live soon as well.

One thing about Tamil.India.com stands out – at launch, it has Indic language transliteration built into the commenting system – you type text in English, and it converts the corresponding text into Tamil script. The site could use this feature to accept user submissions as well.

CricketCountry: Aggregating Fan Communities

CricketCountry was rolled out just before the ICC Cricket World Cup, and Kanwal claims that the website got
2.7 million unique users, 72 million pageviews, and 3.9 million visits in all, with an average of 7 minutes time-spent per user, and employed a “fair amount of seo, SEM and social media”. Not bad for a first month or so, but this does pale in comparison with what Cricinfo claimed recently – 1.8 billion page views and 4.43 billion total minutes, across platforms.

However, what CricketCountry is trying to do is what most other sites have either not attempted, or failed at doing – catering to and/or building fan bases. Says Kanwal – “Our strategy has been about creating destinations for fans, and having editorially curated destinations.” CricketCountry has an editorial team which scouts out fans comments across the web, and asks them to share their views with CricketCountry. The content is “editorially curated” (read moderated), and while they don’t pay for content, they do offer fans a platform. The fans tell their friends, and word of the site spreads.

What they’re trying to do with the IPL is interesting – they’ve created 10 different sites, one for fans of each IPL team, and are curating content related to specific teams, and CricketCountry.com will serve as the mother-ship, aggregating this content. Take a look at the sites for Delhi, Kochi and Pune. Frankly, going through the sites, there’s very little for fans every day – perhaps adding a forum where fans can congregate can start things off.

Kanwal said that they’ve only just started approaching media planners for advertising on CricketCountry. With the IPL, they’re targeting 5 million unique users.

OnCars.in

OnCars.in is the Indian version of OnCars.com, a video review site owned by the Mail.com Media group, with car reviews. Kanwal said that it has gone live recently, and they’re currently testing the site, and finetuning the product. OnCars.in features car reviews, sorted by brands, models, price and car type (hatchback, sedan, coupe and convertible), and features user reviews, car news, accessory reviews, and more interestingly, information on do-it-yourself maintenance (for example, how to deal with an overheating engine). For the fanboys, it has wallpapers.

IndianColleges.com

Appears to be a community site for college students, allowing them to share notes and college specific news, and create college specific communities. For example, students are posting announcements online, here. Of course, there are college specific communities on Facebook and Orkut, and several sites dedicated to researching entrance and preparing for entrance exams; I don’t know of any that focus specifically on students who have been admitted to a college. The site has a Q&A section, Campus Stories, and the ability to request and share notes (on sale?). It’ll be interesting to see this evolve a job board, once the community is built.

Early days for the India.com portfolio – must say the site design of some of the verticals could have been made more appealing, but early days, still.

Related:
India.com Plans Content Focus: Indic, Videos, Gadgets, Cricket, Education, Movies; Hires Sify’s Chief Editor
– Updated: ZEE Inks JV With Mail.com For Entertainment Portal; Arvindra Kanwal CEO