logo-istream2Video aggregation company A2Media (iStream.in) has inked deals with multiple content owners, and is providing video content from Times Now to MSN India. We came across a Times Now video on MSN (screencap), and contacted iStream for details.

Video content businesses that required consumers to pay to view content have shut shop over the past year or so – Tinselvision and GluTV (with Zee content) among them. JumpTV also had decided to move away from regional TV streaming to sports, though they appear to have launched TV Desi. The advertising supported model, focused on maximising views through distribution networks has gathered stream.

MediaNama spoke to iStream CEO Radhakrishnan Ramachandran about the partnerships they’ve struck, differentiation, and conflict on interest with content owners themselves taking on an aggregation role:

Content And Distribution Partnerships

Ramachandran, who co-founded iStream with Chellappa Dhanukodi, and IIM-A alumnus who was working with Oracle, said that they’ve deployed video content at MSN, YouTube, Bebo and Sify, and are in the process of tying up with other top tier portals. They have a library of close to 30,000 clips, and around 15 partnerships in terms of distribution. “Currently we’re looking at strengthening both content partnerships, as well as distribution partnerships. We’d like to have at least 25 partnerships closed by the end of two-three months, and covered all the key portals. ” iStream has YouTube and DailyMotion channels, and Ramachandran said they had launched Hindi and Tamil channels on YouTube a year ago. According to their website, their content partners include Times Now, Zoom, Raj TV, Filmy, NDTV Lumiere, Vissa, Kairali TV and Chandamama.

Differentiation?

Given that other content providers like Rajshri Media, STAR TV and the Times Audience Network are also looking to aggregate content for monetization, we wondered if there’s any differentiation – either in terms of exclusive content at iStream’s disposal, or in terms of exclusive relationships with websites that iStream is providing content to. Ramachandran declined to comment on details of exclusivity. Their differentiation, he said, is that they’re essentially a media company, and have managed content for various portals (including MSN India and Yahoo India) at India Syndicate, a content services firm that the Ramachandran also co-founded. “We understand the online space from a content point of view, and what works.

Conflict Of Interest?

But isn’t there a conflict of interest with the Times Audience Network, given that they’re aggregating Times Now content? Ramachandran said that iStream has tie-ups with both Times Now and Zoom, and will be working with TAN. “There is no conflict of interest. They’re primarily looking at how to monetize their content. There are lots of ways of working together instead of competing.”

How is this Content Monetized?

“As in any other case, it’s an ad driven model. I don’t want to get into too many details, though. We’ve been putting in a lot of effort over the last 1-1.5 years to bring in lots of content into the ecosystem. The monetization is left to the portals themselves.”

Our take: With a model that is advertising revenue based, the online video advertising revenue can possibly be get split between multiple stakeholders – the content owner, the aggregator, the publisher and the ad sales company/video advertising network. The business will need to scale significantly in terms of ad revenues (and possibly views), or someone might get taken out of the value chain. Bear in mind that this is our hypothesis, and Ramachandran declined to comment on details of how the revenue is split.

(Updated: removed incorrect mention of AOL as a content partner)

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