It’s not an idea that hasn’t been thought of before, but it is perhaps an idea whose time has come: With telecom operators in India looking now to leverage video content on 3G (i.e. fatter-than-2G) pipes, FridayMoviez has launched short films for the web and the mobile – FridayMoviez’ WAP portal (http://m.fridaymoviez.com) was launched on 17th December 2010.

Idea Cellular is a sponsor for the first five films being released, and even then, their content isn’t available on the WAP portals of any telecom operator yet (i.e. not “on deck”). Sushant Baliga, MD, Friday Moviez told MediaNama that being on-deck is “A different revenue game. Right now, it’s clear cut data charges on mobile. We’re in talks with all telecom operators, and will assess how we launch. For now, we’ll stick to sponsorship for monetization. I want my movies to be seen by as many people as possible.”

“We’ll produce 10-20 minute films, something that you can watch on the way back home from office, or while waiting for a flight,” he added. Friday Moviez intends to release three films each Friday. But can sponsorship pay for the cost of production of short films? Baliga wasn’t very specific, but said that they’ve invested in production equipment up-front, to reduce cost of renting, and will keep cost of production low. 11 films, pre-productions from FridayMoviez, are ready. One film is already available for viewing – Inbox – and three are expected to be launched later this week – Rupantaran, Colleague, Buddhi De. We think that sponsorship will need to be operator-agnostic: it’s unimaginable for an Airtel, Vodafone, RCOM or any other operator to put films sponsored by Idea Cellular on their deck.

Our Take

– Library; Terms & Conditions Important: Most telecom operators haven’t launched their 3G network yet, but it isn’t too early to start creating a library: FridayMoviez is asking users to send in their ideas for movies. The FridayMoviez website doesn’t have information on the exact terms and conditions (this page doesn’t load), so we’ve asked them for the details, and will update.

– Discovery Essential; Destinations vs Search: The largest repository of short films (max 15 minutes) is probably on YouTube, DailyMotion and Metacafe, which suggests that mobile consumption of video content might well end up being off deck. Our take is that a lot depends on discovery of content – hence video search engines like VuClip will be necessary for discovering content on sites that aren’t destinations.

Format – Sitcoms? and the underlying assumption is that people will want to view short form videos on the mobile (even 20 minutes long), instead of a 90 minute movie. In that case, most 30 minute TV shows have around 20 minutes of content, and the rest is ads, so the sitcom model can probably be extended to the mobile (provided bandwidth allows this).

– Monetization: Partnerships such as this between FridayMoviez and Idea Cellular might end up being good marketing (for both), rather a revenue source. If there’s a price tag on the content, it’s unlikely that people will buy – which is where free content on the mobile web will end up benefiting the mobile operator and no the content owner (or aggregator). Perhaps, it’s time for data revenue share. Do read: The Holy Grail Of Data Revenue Share