Special Feature : Home Video Update

Mumbai: Home Video is not a new drift or a newly captured market segment
in India. Despite its presence for many years this market has primarily been selling VHS tapes. The LCD market took over for a brief period. Progressively the VCDs ventured into the market in the mid 1990’s and eventually the DVDs emerged in late 1990’s, early 2000’s.

HD Camcoder

The new-fangled High Definition (HD) and Blu Ray formats which
run in the DVD’s are now competing with each other. These are currently operational in US and will get launched in Europe and other parts of Asia soon. So as these latest formats come up, every film gets a new life. Da Vinci Code is among the most recent film to have released in US in Blu Ray DVD format. In India some of the major players in the home video segment are Saregama, Shemaroo, Venus, Ultra, T- Series, Eros Multimedia and Sony. This
market that has been present for so many years has started receiving much hype in this day and age.

One reason for this may be the fact that videos of films
are now released in 4 weeks of its theatrical release. Saregama India, the entertainment firm of the Rs 70 billion RPG Enterprises, augmented its home video business through acquisition of licences from foreign studios. Saregama markets home video products of Warner and Universal. Shweta Agnihotri, Vice President Saregama says, “Home video is the finest form of cinema in the cosiness of home. It has an emotional buying experience because the entire family watches it together and it is a priced position.”

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in India is still at its
nascent stage and will probably be ready by next year to come up in a big way. N Muthuram, Country Manager, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) says, “Home video is still a catalogue driven market in India. Until now the Home Video companies sell Sholay and Mughal-E-Azam DVD’s and VCD’s in more numbers than recent films.”In 2004 in US the DVD revenue was 3 times more than the theatrical revenue.

Blu Ray

The theatrical revenue being 9.5 billion and the DVD revenue positioned at a whooping 25 billion.”India hasn’t
seen these figures, one cause being piracy. Due to piracy the sales get affected massively. But action is being taken to curtail this and we have been successful to an extent”, informs Muthuram. Worldwide there has been a trend of huge genre of films premiering only on video. These films do not see theatrical release.”

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has tied up with Steven Segal where his action films will be compiled in video format for home viewing only” reveals Muthuram. Home video market has existed for long now, but it seems to be flourishing now than ever before. “Video market took off when the Wal-Marts of the world began to stock videos in their stores. These video counters are placed closer to the cash counters and it contributed to huge sales.

In US the sale of home video in Wal-mart contributes to half the sales of video” informs Muthuram. Do supermarket chains of India also see this as a lucrative business proposition? Sanjeev Agarwal, President, Pantaloon says, “Home video is still small in India. Pantaloon is not concentrating
on it now but at a later stage we may.” Besides selling these VCD’s and DVD’s in stores and put up on sale through their own corporate websites, an additional way to sell them is through online bidding and shopping portals.

Muthuram says "We are trying to sell our home video through e-Bay and indiatimes. Today, selling air tickets is a bigger section on such sites and home video is still relatively smaller. Though, on a website we have a section where we sell our home video.” The home video market
also offers high opportunity for merchandising. “Mitsubishi shelled out Rs. 2.5 million for the sale of Fast and Furious home video.

The tie up of brands with home video has been a recent phenomenon in India, it is more dominant in the overseas now”, informs Shweta Agnihotri. Muthuram adds, "In the US Spiderman 1 had tied up with Act II Popcorn for the sale of their DVD. We tried to sell Spiderman 1 during the release of Spiderman 2. Spiderman 2 had also tied up with a bread company.” Now in India one has to wait for the home video segment to become bigger and better. Merchandising opportunities with DVDs has to build up. The HD and Blu Ray is yet to seep in to India.