Zee New Media, the digital business of Zee Entertainment Enterprises, has launched Ditto TV, an online TV subscription service that offers live TV streams and video on demand content on mobile phones, tablets, PCs, entertainment boxes and connected TVs. The service can be accessed through desktop apps for Mac and Windows, and mobile apps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry. The desktop apps are based on Adobe Air. The platform is powered by Siemens Communication and Media Technology and according to the company, offers adaptive streaming that ensures an optimal feed basis the available bandwidth strength.

The Ditto TV service is being launched in India, UK, UAE, New Zealand and Australia. Zee plans to launch it in the US by the end of this quarter. It supports streaming over Wifi, 3G and regular broadband internet connections.

We wonder what happened to Zee’s partnership with Geodesic. In 2010, Zee and Geodesic, which offers Mundu TV, had formed a JV company called IITM Digital to offer applications for delivery of content to mobile and Internet devices.The company had plans to launch Internet TV on the mobile, desktop and the web, streaming 20 live platforms and several on-demand video channels. At that time, Zee had said that it had rights to over 3000 movie titles, and over 80,000 hours of TV content, which it wanted to leverage. This rollout appears to be independent of the partnership.

Ditto TV offers different monthly subscription packages, which can be purchased online via credit and ITZ cash cards, and offline via prepaid cards. Zee has partnered with electronic retail chain companies to distribute prepaid subscription cards across Croma Stores and Vijay Stores.

  

Packages & Free Trial

At the time of launch, the platform offers 21 TV channels, including Sony, Zee, SAB, MIX, TEN Sports, BBC World, Aaj Tak, Headlines Today among others, for which, it has partnered with Multi Screen Media (Sony Entertainment Television), TV Today Network, BBC, and ZEE. It intends to expand the lineup to 50 channels.

We tried using the service on an iPhone 4 and during our trial, experienced a good quality stream on a 3G network. The app also featured news and weather info, and VOD clips including full length movies.

Users can choose from monthly packages starting at Rs 49, wherein they can choose channels of their choice. However, new users can get a free trial of all channels for 10 minutes, post which if they choose to register, they will be offered  48 hours of ETC and Zee News for free. In addition to that, they’ll be able to watch 5 minutes of ETC, every day, free of charge.

There is a device restriction of 2 devices i.e a user can access the services on two registered devices, at the same time. The service claims to offer features such as adaptive streaming, in addition to an electronic programme guide, and a content recommendation engine.

It appears that monetization will mainly be through subscription, since owing to non-tamper agreements, the live TV streams have to carry the same advertising content, as noted by Storyboard (CNBC).

Will Users Pay For Online TV?

Last month, PK Online also extended its Hello TV service to non-BSNL users, provided they subsribe to the service via a BSNL branded ITZ Cash card. Tata Photon also offers an online TV service with Apalya to its data card subscribers. In fact Apalya’s TV platform has been deployed by a large number of mobile operators on their own networks.

Ditto TV as an off deck (non – operator) tv platform would compete with Geodesic’s Mundu, which offers tv streaming across all major platforms, Zenga TV and A2Media’s iStream.com.

But with tv content being available freely across video sharing sites, and broadcasters offering tv episodes and live news streams on their own portals, it will be tough for Zee to pull-in new users, unless it ties up with mobile operators and ISPs for free data. On the other hand, with 4G service rollouts expected in the later half of this year, it might turn out to be a killer app, provided the data tariffs are affordable.