BigFlix trying to replicate the business model of NetFlix is one of the topics being discussed in the media since yesterday. BigFlix, Reliance Entertainment’s video content service launched it’s new business model, BigFlixPlus i.e. subscription based online movie on demand for Indians. This move is being questioned and discussed right now by the pundits. Just to inform you that BigFlix had closed its physical distribution business in the month of November 2011.

 

So what does this move mean to Indian Customers?

The new launch of BigFlix will mean that I don’t need to wait for movies to be played on the idiot box anymore but I can watch quality movies by paying Rs. 249/- per month. Along with that, BigFlix has made sure to bring seamless experience to all the gadgets that you posses. So you can watch your favorite movies on iOS, Android phones, tablets and connected TV’s too. With a collection of 500 titles in its catalogue, BigFlix is all set to entertain you online. But is it an over optimistic move or will it change the way we have consumed online content till date.

2011 saw a lot of interest in online video consumption, first it was Google coming up with Boxoffice and then the old horse of Internet, Yahoo followed suit with Movieplex. Later towards the end of the year, Yahoo dropped another bomb that it is launching premium content for users. People mocked at the decision as when it’s competitor was serving the same content for free, Yahoo was trying to revive its fortune by serving premium content. I spoke to Vishal Maheshwari, Yahoo APAC Head on the same and he seemed to be optimistic about this move. If you have not read the interview, then you can check it out here.

So is Premium Content the way ahead?

I think users will pay you a fee only when you provide an out-of-box service to them. Same is the case between free and premium apps.  In this situation, if you are showing me the same movie that my idiot box might show me or I can get it free online then probably I am not even going to look at your service. But then lets change the scenario, lets say the next time that Don3 releases, SRK ties up with BigFlix so that the movie would be released online as well as on multiplexes. I am going to put my money on this idea. I will also buy the premium version of BigFlix if it provides me with content that is not screened by the censors. So the bottom line is that premium content can work in India only if services like BigFlix provide me with something more than the regular stuff I am already being served by other means.

And Challenges?

Yes we do have loads of them at this point. The biggest roadblock for such ideas is our crippled infrastructure. India still has no solid infrastructure for high speed broadband that is also economically viable. BigFlix won’t be successful unless this problem is solved and the situation in non-metros is even pathetic. We boast about 3G but visit the Twitter accounts of all those who talk about quality 3G service then you would know what kind of service Indians are getting.  Apart from this, premium content will always be challenged by free and illegal content. So who is going to control it? In addition to this, convenient ways of payment have to be derived too. One can’t survive only on online payment or credit cards.

 

Even though I’m skeptical about this move, this is how early movers are defined. As shared above, premium content will attract me if it has something more. Nevertheless, I am sure this is a model that might be followed soon by some other players too. My big hunch is that Airtel might jump into the market soon. I find it an interesting concept but I think at this time the common man won’t buy it. Will you?

Prasant Naidu

Founder and Editor at Lighthouse Insights.

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