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iStream Inks Tie-Up With IndiaCast; On Content, Monetization, Competition & More

Online video streaming service, iStream has inked a multi-year licensing deal with IndiaCast, the content asset monetization joint venture between TV18 and Viacom18. Following the deal, iStream.com will get access to IndiaCast’s library of content from a bouquet of the network’s 20 channels for its streaming and video on demand services online and on Internet-enabled devices including smart phones and tablets.

iStream.com users will now have access to content from Viacom 18’s entertainment channels like COLORS and MTV, TV18’s news channels like CNN IBN, CNBC TV18, CNBC Awaaz, IBN 7 and IBN Lokmat, History 18 from A&E 18 and the entire bouquet of regional channels from the ETV Group. According to IndiaCast, the partnership with iStream will help it further its connect with the online audience and broaden it further.

iStream.com will offer dedicated landing pages for each of these channels and will showcase reality shows like Bigg Boss and India’s Got Talent, fiction shows like Balika Vadhu & Uttaran, youth shows like MTV Roadies and Splitsvilla, in addition to regional content from  ETV’s bouquet of channels.

iStream.com claims to have a library of over a 200,000 clips of premium News Bulletins, TV Shows & Movies in five Indian languages from over 80 channels. It also streams 26 news channels – in English, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam.

Speaking with MediaNama,  Radhakrishnan Ramachandran, Founder & CEO of iStream.com, informed that the deal was not an exclusive one but iStream will curate and package content in a way that will aid discovery for IndiaCast. He also informed that there was a revenue sharing arrangement where both partners were on an equal footing but refused to divulge more details.

– On differentiation & competition with YouTube: He stated that iStream has an inhouse editorial team, which curates and packages content, unlike YouTube, where partner content shares space with user generated content. He said that the company considers itself a digital media company and not just a technology back-end for content. The company takes additional responsibility of digitizing and archiving all old content, packaging it including tagging and naming video content and ensuring that a show is online as soon as it’s live transmission ends. He said that the company wants to position the service as a premium content destination on the lines of Hulu, which co-exists with YouTube and broadcaster operated portals, and was doing well in the US.

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– Monetization: iStream monetizes by selling premium ad inventory, and offers pre-roll and mid-roll ads to advertisers. Ramachandran feels that the Indian market is still not ready for subscriptions, and the only way to monetize video content is to sell inventory at higher CPM rates since Video is a premium proposition. When we asked if a Hulu like freemium model was possible, he responded that it definitely was but not in the near term, and that only 10% of Hulu’s revenue came from subscriptions.

– On new content: iStream intends to offer 200 channels by the next 6 months. The service also wants to focus on Sports content including content other than cricket. On the movies front, it has rights for 3,000 Hindi, Tamil and Telugu movies, out of which 1,000 are already online, and iStream intends to offer 5,000 movies in the next 6 months. It has tied-up with content aggregators as well as TV networks for movies. It had partnered with Ten Sports to live stream the US Open Tennis tournament, and with Neo Sports to live stream UEFA EURO 2012.

– On mobile: iStream offers an iOS app and a Windows 8 app. An Android app is also in the pipeline. According to Ramachandran, 25% traffic comes from Mobile, at the moment, even though the company is focusing majorly on tablets and smartphones.

– On Funding: Last year, iStream had raised $5 million from SAIF Partners. Ramachandran informs that the company is adequately funded and has no plans to raise fresh funding at the moment.

*Disclosure: iStream was our video streaming partner during #NAMA 

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