Reliance to pump $100 million in BigFlicks

MUMBAI: With the view to spread out in the home entertainment market, Reliance ADAG will invest $ 100 million in its new portal and movie rental service Bigflicks.com, which was launched today.


This is an on demand movie download service, which offers a range of Indian entertainment spanning across languages – Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telegu, Punjabi and Kannada. The service will be available for an option of either download to own at attractive prices or for free streaming.


Apart from this, Bigflicks will also be introducing its movie rental services through its online home delivery service as well as a network of retail shops.


The roll out of these services will begin in Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Pune from September onwards and expand to seven more cities by year end. Plans are to open up 500 stores across 50 cities in the country. It will also offer download to rent and subscription services in its portfolio of operations.


Reliance Entertainment president Rajesh Sawhney said, “BigFlicks is a big step in the evolution of the Indian movie industry. We have seen that in mature economies, the demand for home entertainment is increasing with the rising income levels of consumers. A typical Hollywood movie generates more revenues through home entertainment than through theatrical distribution, while in India, home entertainment contributes in low single digits to a movie’s revenues. And that is because we lack effective home entertainment platform.” < Page Break >
 
Sawhney added, “With this venture, our vision is to build a scalable business model that brings entertainment to all kinds of consumers and homes through a multi-channel distribution platform across – broadband, Internet, home delivery and retail infrastructure. Secondly, we believe that BigFlicks.com will become the window of Indian entertainment content to the world. With over 1 billion people on the net, and increasingly on broadband, the portal offers an opportunity for Indian movie industry to reach out to the audience across the world: in the US, in Canada, in Europe, in Japan and even in South America.”


For the initial one to one and a half years, BigFlicks.com portal seeks to connect primarily with the 25 million NRI audiences in North America, UK, Canada, Middle East, South East Asia, Europe, and Australia due to the effective broadband connectivity in these areas. After which, their activities in India too will get aggressive, simply due to the broadband gaining a stronger foothold in Indian markets by then and of course Reliance broadband will be at the helm of this activity.


Bigflicks.com COO Kamal Gianchandani stated, “About 25 million Non-Resident Indians, students and working professionals live overseas, who follow Indian entertainment content on a regular basis. This is a large but very fragmented audience, which is difficult to reach through the traditional theatrical distribution route and as a result piracy fills the gap between demand and supply. Online movie download service works out well for the overseas audience keen to watch content On Demand as they don’t have to travel long distances to access movies at cinemas. By releasing a new movie on the Internet, we are confident of marginalizing piracy by offering a legal alternative at compelling price points. Online distribution of the movie, in fact, serves as an additional source of revenue for the producer; we shall be complimenting the existing revenue streams.”


The site already has films like Ramesh Sippy’s Bluffmaster, Taxi No.9211 and recently released Fear, UTV’s Rang De Basanti, Chup Chup Ke, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Hattrick, Blue Umbrella and Metro, Sunil Doshi’s Mixed Doubles and Bheja Fry, which range from $4.99 to $19.99. Forthcoming films include Adlabs’ Cash and Marigold, Vishesh Films’ Dhoka and Marathi film Navra Majha Navsacha.


Going forward Bigflicks.com plans to acquire over 2000 titles in one year and it will also be showcasing TV shows based on cookery, health and astrology. In the Internet space, Rajshri.com has been the only player so far offering legal downloads and streaming of movies and TV shows. Another players that has also entered the space is Indyaondemand.com, which is also stepping up on its offerings.


On the retail front there may not be any direct competition buy the recent drop in home video rates from companies like T-Series, Eros and Yash Raj may ultimately tempt the end user to rather own the content at Rs 49 than to rent it, unless if the rates are really competitive.
 
Says Gianchandani, “We haven’t decided the rental rates, but they will surely be competitive. Besides, we may also sell Top 50 movies at our stores and rent the others.”


The content serving platform of Entriq is a download manager platform which allows the user to download movies from bigflicks.com. The website has also appointed Limelight Networks, the world’s leading content delivery network for digital media, as the provider of streaming content delivery services for Bigflicks.com that will enable the site to deliver its library of full length Indian movies, music videos, TV shows, documentaries, and other premium video content via the Internet to a global audience. Incidentally Limelight Networks also provides its services to Rajshri.com.


Related story:
Rajshri.com unperturbed; welcomes competition

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