Video rental business goes corporate

ಫಿಲ್ಮ್ ಎಲ್ಲಿಂದ ತರುವುದು ಎನ್ನುವ ಪುಟ್ಟ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ ಅನೇಕ ದೊಡ್ಡ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯತ್ತ ಬೆರಳು ತೋರಿಸುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಟೈಮ್ಸ್ ಆಫ್ ಇಂಡಿಯಾ ದಲ್ಲಿ ಬಂದಿರುವ ಈ ಲೇಖನ ಫಿಲ್ಮ್ ಬಾಡಿಗೆಗೆ ಕೊಡುವ ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ದೊಡ್ಡ ಕಂಪನಿಗಳು ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ ಹಾಕುತ್ತಿರುವುದನ್ನು ತಿಳಿಸುತ್ತಿದೆ.

Now video rental business goes corporate
By Himank Sharma

New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) The video rental business, dominated for
years by the neighbourhood shop around the corner, is now drawing big
corporates – a move that makes watching movies at home easier and
promises to cut down piracy.

Bigflicks Ltd, a subsidiary of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani
Group (ADAG), is the latest entrant with an initial network spanning
10 cities. Seventymm, with its presence in six cities, currently
dominates the market. And then there are a few regional players like
Movie Mart and Cine Flix that have customers in Delhi and Mumbai
respectively.

Kamal Gianchandani, COO of BigFlicks, told IANS: “The market potential
is huge and immense with regard to demand of home video. The industry
is gaining recognition. ”

The proportion of India’s organised home video industry to the number
of box office releases is still small compared to Western countries
like the US. But a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of
Commerce and Industry (FICCI) says the industry witnessed 30 percent
growth in 2007 and expects to grow at the rate of 15 percent to a
Rs.15-billion industry by 2012.

Movie aficionados couldn’t be happier. Not only do they get the best
quality original prints but also an array of choices available at a
small price.

Gaurav Ahuja, 21, watches two movies every day and the number doubles
on weekends.

“Earlier good quality DVDs were hard to get and only recent titles
were available. Now I make an online play-list and all I have to do is
sms the pickup and delivery timings and make popcorn,” he said.

Customers are offered flexible plans to suit their viewing habits. And
there are no late fees, so people don’t have to slip in the disc as
soon as it arrives.

But Amit Singh, owner of a video rental store in south Delhi’s Lajpat
Nagar, says the organised players have not dented his business and
clientele.

“I used to rent out 5-10 videos every day when I started in 2001. The
numbers have only gone up over the years,” Singh said.

“Now the demand is somewhere between 30-40 videos per day. I’ve also
started renting out games and the business is good,” Singh added.

The existence of unorganised players, corporates say, contributes to
video piracy.

“With a large number of unorganised players still playing a dominant
role in the market, piracy is quite prevalent in the industry. Entry
of more organised players will bring down piracy in a big way,” said
Gianchandani.

“Also, factors like releasing DVDs on a date closer to a date of box
office releases will contribute to reducing piracy,” he added.

Singh, however, refrained from commenting on the rampant piracy and
spoke about the good quality of his videos instead.

“I have the best prints in the whole of Lajpat Nagar; therefore I have
a wide delivery network covering the whole of (nearby) Defence Colony
and Jangpura. Customers don’t care if the video is pirated or original
as long as the print is good,” he said.

Gianchandani said the film fraternity has responded well to the
corporatisation of home video rentals.

“They (film industry) have been very supportive and receptive. We have
relationships with all major home video distributors and have also
tied up with Internet VOD (video on demand) right holders,” he said.

But Suresh Manssharamani, president of Movie Mart, feels otherwise.

“We have received very little support from the film fraternity. They
are still not understanding and visualising the growth in the home
video segment. They need to release movies faster in the home video
format.”

While film buffs enjoy the flexibility and choice corporate players
offer, what they miss is the personal selling factor that is lent by
their friendly neighbourhood shopkeeper.

Ratish Sharma, a manager at a software firm, said: “I really enjoy the
service and the wide choice I get, but I do miss the jokes and
friendly talks I had with my neighbourhood video vendor whenever I
paid him a visit.”

Nevertheless, the market is growing by the day and Movie Mart expects
a subscriber base of one million in three-five years. While Bigflicks
aims to expand operations in the form of stand-alone, shop-in-shop and
franchisees, Seventymm acquired regional leader Madhouse entertainment
about a year ago.

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