Online Indian Video Portal iStream Shutdown: What Went Wrong? [CASE STUDY]

Must Read

The Grim Reality Of Indian Startups: Only 12% Left With Cash Runway of Less Than One Month!

Previously, in the month of April when the lockdown was still in effect, Dazeinfo reported how the...

India-China Tussle May Result In Massive Job Losses

The Sino-Indian border dispute has been a hot topic in Indian news and media ever since it...

Upskilling Is Mandatory As 72% Companies Have More Than 25% Roles At Risk!

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to businesses around the world facing unprecedented amounts of disruption and change....

Go Big or Go home is the mantra of today’s business world. Though, entrepreneurship is immensely encouraged today, it is not that simple to prevail in it. And the recent story of online video portal company iStream’s shutdown has just proven this statement right.

The Inkling

In 2007 iStream was just a content distributor; back then online video was at a fledgling stage so it tied-up with third-party platforms like YouTube, and by 2010 it grew into one of You tube’s largest partners in India. At that time online video had grown into multimillion dollar business. So that is when iStream decided to launch their own online platform and fortunately got about $5 million from SAIF partners and India’s very own “Netflix” i.e. iStream was launched in 2011.

The Business Model


iStream was not a video sharing site, it did not get free content from anyone, and it had attained premium TV and movie content rights directly from the producer. And those contents were presented in such a way that is ideal for both users and the content owners and there were options like better tagging and metadata which enables better discover-ability of content on the site.



Unlike other digital media companies which go gaga over bollywood and cricket, iStream gave importance to regional content, news, and other kind of sports. The company flaunts to have a library of over 250,000 videos packed and curated in both long and short formats across many languages. In December 2012 the company crossed 5 million unique users and over 22 million page views. In March 2013 alone the company had 6 million unique users and over 12 million views.

The Company also understood the trend market and internally focused on tablets and Smartphone and built advertising solutions around them and the company built the first and only app from India on Windows 8 and accounted to 45,000 downloads                          and focused on iOS and Android apps.


In 2011, A2Media, which operates iStream, got its round A funding worth $5 million from SAIF partners and though their business model was of revenue sharing but the company did try to have a subscription model too. iStream monetized its content by selling premium ad inventory and offered pre-roll and mid-roll ads to advertisers. And the company did plan to produce its own shows and offering it under a subscription model like Netflix and Hulu does but the company was aware that Indian market is still not ready for subscription model.

What Went Amiss?

iStream did so many things right, It was known for its premium online content. But was that enough?  It is quite tricky to choose an optimum business model for a digital media company.

Both Hulu and iStream has been around for 6 years and has a similar business model, and Hulu had more than 4 million subscribers and generated revenue about $700 million through subscriptions and a free ad-service but this business model worked wonders for them and this was a hit in the west but this business model was a blunder for iStream.


Indians are quite price sensitive and the market is not ready for subscription based business models and  Piracy is a major concern for premium online platforms and for the content owners. Piracy contents are so easily accessible so why would anyone pay for something which is already available for free? Indians would prefer free-mium model rather than a premium model.

iStream was a capital intensive business, it suffered from lack of capital planning and funding, though it had a solid round A funding it could not get a  round B funding and led the company to shut down.

Though the iStream CEO Radhakrishnan Ramachandran has hinted that they will be back with new ideas, for now it looks like premium online content is a distant dream.  In India Entrepreneurship is encouraged but people are quite hesitant to invest their money on these business models so either the business models have to change or the perspective of the users have to change.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

Qualcomm Ventures Invests In Jio: A Masterstroke To Dominate 5G Market In India!

If you thought Reliance’s hot streak of selling stakes in Jio Platforms was over after 12 deals...

The Success Of TikTok Alternative Apps May Be Short-Lived [STUDY]

After the Indian Government, in a bid to take a stance against China, banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps, the popular...

India’s Flourishing Gaming Sector: What’s Driving The Growth!

The Indian gaming market is one of the fastest-growing gaming markets in the world. In 2019, the number of gamers in the...

Employee App: Companies Must Have To Thrive In The New Normal

With all the advancements in technology, managers and business owners seem to be taking note. Far too many believe that traditional methods...

India-China Tussle May Result In Massive Job Losses

The Sino-Indian border dispute has been a hot topic in Indian news and media ever since it escalated to unprecedented levels back...

Apple iPhone Has A Serious Technical Issue That Is Annoying Users!

Apple aficionados beware! It is recently learned that iPhone devices have an extremely annoying problem and Apple has confirmed it.

In-Depth: Dprime

Will The Online Food Delivery Market in India End Up Becoming A Two-Horse Race?

It's pretty much evident that the food delivery space in India is all set to get riled up soon enough as one...

Fantastic 4: Four Day Work Week A Flashpoint Of Innovation?

It has been an idea that has been mooted by many, perhaps also somewhat sceptically. From being a dark horse to becoming...

TikTok Is Facing The Wrath Of People Who Love It The Most

Ever since the popular social media app TikTok entered India, it has been growing very aggressively in terms of users. Within a...

More Articles Like This