Free movie streaming on the wane

Bindu D Menon | | Updated on: Jan 22, 2018

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Entertainment firms increasingly opt for fee-based models

All good things come to an end, and this applies to watching movies on your TV for free.

A number of entertainment firms who were earlier offering movie streaming for free are now shifting to a fee-based subscription model. Sony Liv, for example, has converted its free movie streaming service into a subscription-based one. Similarly, Hungama PRO and Ogle, which were charging a fee for a segment of their content, are in the process of bringing their movies under a paid model.

There’re reasons to do so. On the one hand, the companies find ad revenues insufficient; on the other, they see an opportunity to monetise their fast growing user base.

Said Uday Sodhi, Executive VP and Head - Digital Business at MSM: “Digital is a long-term experience and, going forward, a bulk of content will be subscription-based. For our movies business we are opting for a fee-based model, as a chance to monetise movies is low. Globally, the model for movies is subscription-based.” MSM owns a bouquet of channel including Sony Entertainment and Sony Liv.

Sony Liv’s offerings range from ₹10 for a daily pack to ₹150 for a monthly pack.

Others, like Hungama and Zee-owned Ditto TV, are also betting big on the paid model. While Ditto TV is a paid digital platform, Hungama has launched a movie streaming business, and made several of its premium content available for a fee.

“At least 25 per cent of our user base is paid,” said Neeraj Roy, MD, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Pvt Ltd. The company offers consumers an à la carte option, wherein they can pay ₹60-120 to watch a single movie. It has a monthly user base of 62 million viewers across its entertainment services.

Added Roy: “Smartphone penetration and enhanced bandwidth connectivity will push the digital music and movie business in a big way. We expect the industry to grow five-fold.”

The movie streaming business has been growing, with players like Hooq, Hotstar, Boxtv and Erosnow making forays, buoyed by the growth of smartphones. Most players operate in the ₹70- ₹1,000 subscription price bracket.

According to industry watchers, the strategy is driven by the success of companies such as Netflix and Hulu in developed markets. Netflix ended 2014 with 57.4 million global subscribers.

International operators such as Netflix work substantially on a subscription model. So far, Indian service providers have been offering a lot of content for free. Relatively new releases are offered on a pay-per-view model, at ₹60-150 per view.

Hooq offers services based on a subscription model, at ₹199 a month for unlimited viewing. Hotstar, though, is betting on digital advertisements.

Rapid investments According to a Deloitte report, the digital video subscription market is expected to be ₹3,500-4,000 crore by 2020. Industry watchers note that investment — both in technology and services — is growing rapidly in the segment.

Ogle, a premium on-demand streaming platform, has signed up Snapdeal as its exclusive marketing partner till the end of 2015.

Snapdeal customers get three months of free Ogle subscription when they buy smart TVs, tablets and mobiles from the website. The subscription offerings come at ₹49 per day and ₹2,400 per annum.

Published on December 11, 2015
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