The team that ran iStream, the online video destination that shut down due to lack of funds, has now launched Pepper Media, a Multi-Channel Network (MCN) that will create original content and provide branded video solutions for brands and media entities. To this end, the company says it is aiming to build a content creator network of 1000 partners over the next 12 to 18 months. Radhakrishnan Ramachandran, Founder & CEO of Pepper Media, said that the company has invested $100,000 in the venture so far.
Speaking with MediaNama, Ramachandran said that the company will largely focus on YouTube. Brands are looking at investing on social media and video solutions, and YouTube is the only platform that seems to be working at the moment in India, he said. The company is following a “YouTube first” policy for the next 18 months, and plans to look at other platforms afterwards. Pepper Media claims to be currently creating branded channels with celebrities along with building a network of content creators.
Pepper Media claims to have partnered with around 15 TV channels, including regional channels, with a 50:50 revenue share, but Ramachandran declined to disclose names. It’s worth noting that YouTube keeps 45% of what the advertiser pays it, but channels also monetize through branded content, sponsorships and product placements, for which YouTube does not makes any money. While branded content seems to be their prime source of revenue, Pepper Media also uses YouTube ad inventory on channels that have mass entertainment content driven by high views. It remains a challenge for such networks to procure brands for these mass entertainment content, since brands prefer working with niche content. Pepper Media plans to work with celebrities on creating niche content like travel, food etc that could bring on-board interested brands for sponsorship.
This will be the iStream team’s second attempt at deploying content on YouTube: iStream had also distributed content on YouTube, licensing it from TV channels like Colors, MTV and TimesNow, in 2009-10, before deciding to build a video platform after it raised $5 million in funding from SAIF Partners.
Outside of film and music companies like T-Series, Eros Now, and TV channels like NDTV, TV9, Sony Entertainment Television, YouTube-only (or mostly) companies include All India Bakchod, Culture Machine, Nirvana Digital, Ping Digital, The Viral Fever, Jay Hind, among others.
Earlier this year, Blume Ventures invested in online health video startup HomeVeda.