Online video streaming service, iStream.com is struggling to raise a Series B round of funding in a tough market for fund raising, and the company is exploring various options, its CEO Radhakrishnan Ramachandran told MediaNama, not specifically commenting on whether the company is shutting down. MediaNama had heard from reliable internal sources that the company is laying off its employees with one month advance salary, and may shut down by the end of May.
Ramachandran said that, with 6.1 million uniques and 12 million video views in April 2013, iStream has been in the market to raise their Series B funding but the market conditions have been tough, and they’re looking at multiple options, including cost cutting. He did not specifically comment on layoffs.
In 2011, A2Media, which operates iStream, raised $5 million from SAIF Partners in November 2011 to launch the premium video content portal. iStream currently focuses on Indian content and offers on-demand content across various categories like news, TV shows, movies and sports among others. The company had claimed to have a library of over 200,000 clips from 80 television channels across English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu as of December 2012. Besides on-demand content, it also offers live streaming of 26 Indian news channels across various languages like English, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam. This includes Times Now, Headlines Today, ET Now, News 9, Aaj Tak and India TV among others.
Partnerships: iStream had partnered with Neo Sports to provide exclusive live streaming of 2012 UEFA European Football Championship in June 2012. It had also secured exclusive live streaming and video on demand rights for the India-Sri Lanka Cricket series in July 2012 and for the US Open Tennis tournament in August 2012.
In December 2012, iStream had inked a multi-year licensing deal with IndiaCast, the content asset monetization joint venture between TV18 and Viacom18, following which iStream.com got access to IndiaCast’s library of content from the network’s 20 channels for its streaming and video on demand services online and on Internet-enabled devices including smart phones and tablets.
Monetization: iStream monetized its content by selling premium ad inventory and offering pre-roll and mid-roll ads to advertisers. A Reuters report had suggested that the company was looking to produce its own shows and offering it under a subscription model like Netflix and Hulu does, however Ramachandran believes that Indian market is still not ready for subscriptions and and the only way to monetize video content is to sell inventory at higher CPM rates. Its worth noting that iStream competitor BoxTV* follows a subscription model, with subscriptions starting at Rs 199 per month. Google and Apple also recently extended its video offerings to the country through Play Store and iTunes Store respectively.
*Disclosure: Times Internet which owns BoxTV is an advertiser with Medianama