Edutainment specialist Da Vinci Media has joined forces in India with Quintillion Media, a digital media start-up founded by husband and wife team Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur, to accelerate development of linear channel offering Da Vinci Learning via a 50:50 JV.
It’s the third joint venture Da Vinci has formed for the channel worldwide, after similar tie-ups in Russia and Turkey.
The partnership in India was announced this week, along with Da Vinci Learning’s first carriage deal in the market, with cable MSO Hathway.
Quintillion Media has launched a mobile first news portal, called The Quint, as well as a cloud-based publishing platform, called The Quintype, since it was set up by Bahl and Kapur in 2014.
The pair had been at Network18, founded by Bahl, which grew to become one of India’s biggest broadcast and media companies, but left after Network18 was taken over by local giant, Reliance Industries.
Da Vinci Learning represents the first foray into TV for Quintillion, which is positioned as a diversified media company.
“What they are doing in terms of how video and written content is consumed online is very exciting,” Da Vinci Media founder and CEO, Ferdinand Habsburg, tells Media Business Asia.
“There will definitely be some touchpoints there between what we’re doing and what they doing with The Quint, in particular the children’s learning apps that we are going to be launching, as well as the OTT platform which we are developing,” he adds.
The two parties had been discussing working together for some time, formally coming together after Da Vinci secured its pay-TV license in India just under six months ago.
The Indian business will be run by Mohit Anand, who joined Da Vinci in the first half of 2013 to establish operations in India.
Now, with an expanded team in place, a key priority is securing wider distribution for Da Vinci Learning, an English-language HD-only offering targeting kids aged 6-12 and their families.
The channel will initially depend on advertising for its main source of income. More deals, focused on India’s 12 biggest cities, are expected to close before the end of the year.
Over time, Da Vinci hopes to skew more towards subscription revenues, especially as operators start to offer more channel packs and tiers, once analog cable systems are upgraded to digital networks.
Analysts from Media Partners Asia (MPA) expect the number of HD homes in India to increase dramatically in the next few years, from ~5.5 million this year to more than 16 million by the end of 2020.
Earlier output agreements meanwhile, comprising a VOD block for Airtel DTH as well as programming blocks for two MSOs, Digicable and Siti Cable, have been wound up.
A content deal with Primary Plus, a fortnightly activity paper distributed in around 2,000 schools will continue however, with in-school events planned for next year.
An online and OTT presence for Da Vinci Learning, currently in development, should also start to roll out next year.
Additionally, Da Vinci is producing a science show in India for distribution across Asia, including India, in Q1 next year.
As yet, there are no confirmed plans for further localization for Da Vinci Learning India, via India-specific content or local languages, although both areas will be evaluated as distribution expands.