Friday, October 27, 2006

Online video rental companies in India

There has been lots of activity in the space of Online Video rental. The value proposition is of course convenience in the process of renting movies. Subscribers can order / queue the movies they want to watch and the movie rental company will despatch the movie by courier to their home. Once the movie has been watched the courier will collect back the same, saving the hassle of going to a movie rental shop and browsing through loads of photo albums with movie covers. The online library is of course searchable & browsable making the task of selecting movies easier!

I have done a deeper analysis of their offerings:

Area of operation: Delhi & Bangalore
Number of Titles : 10,000+
Membership options: Rs 199/599 ; 4/ Unlimited DVDs in a month
Number of movies at a time: upto 2
Viewing Time: No limit
Registration : Rs. 499
Security Deposit: Rs. 999

Area of operation: Mumbai (selected areas)
Number of titles: Several Thousand (?!)
Membership options: Rs 399-999 / 1-2 discs out at a time/ 6-unlimited DVDs in a month
Viewing Time: 3-7 days
Security Deposit: 1500 / 3000

Area of operation: Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi & NCR, Mumbai
Number of titles: Thousands (?!)
One DVD Rs 99, 2 DVDs Rs 149
Viewing Time: 3 days
Security Deposit: None

Area of operation: Delhi & NCR
Number of titles: Not specified
One DVD Rs 399, 2 DVDs Rs 499; unlimited / month
Viewing Time: Unlimited
Registration: 150-250

Area of operation: Bangalore
Number of titles: Not specified
Limited (2 DVDs) - Rs 100 / Unlimited movies Rs 400 per month
Viewing Time: Unlimited
Registration: 1500-250

Area of operation: Delhi, Gurgaon & Noida
Number of titles: Not specified
Rs. 699 pm to Rs 999 pm ; 1 movie at a time
Viewing Time: Unlimited

Related links

Excellent post by Webyatra

With so much of Video piracy in India, an interesting aspect to be seen is will these players be able to create a sustainable and profitable business model for themselves?

I am sure there will be few other players whom I would have missed out. I invite readers to help me update the list.


Another online video rental company to get funded:


Madhur Khandelwal said...

Good analysis Anurag. The online movie rental market is definitely heating up esp. and the fact that seventymm recently raised $7 million from Matrix Partners is a proof that they are able to show a solid business model to the VCs. I think the convenience and quality aspects of these services should offset the piracy factor, esp. in bigger cities.

One other player that I know of is
You can check the details on their site, but the interesting thing I found was they claim to be already having a multichannel distribution using SMS, phone and kiosks, which I think is so important in Indian markets.

Anurag Gupta said...

Thanks Madhur for the update.....

Cram said...

Hi Anurag

Great work. I've posted on ContentSutra too about the DVD rental hype.
I think piracy is too big an issue to ignore. I don't think VC investments in DVD rental companies are worth it, but what do I know:-)? It's their money.

Anonymous said...

Anurag- first thanks for posting the list of companies, but didn't really see any analysis on the business model other than few pricing, and rate plans features. Dont really mean to sound complainer but since you are in that space, I would love to see/hear your thoughts on how do you think teh companies should position themselves, i.e in terms of sales and marketing efforts, geographic focus ( i would think mostly Metros & tier 2 cities, opportunities and how particularly companies would overcome the issues/challenges that arise from the wide differences in socio-economic divide that is present between India & USA (since its pretty much a US based business model adopted with suitable fine tuning to suit Indian environment). thanks.

Rahul Krishna said...

Extremey welll researched list - I could not find any other name except but they are a U.S. based Hindi and Tamil Online video rental company...BTW, i too would be interested in the business model part. "Anonymous" has a valid point - what kind of revenue numbers are these ventures capable of delivering? When do they expcect to break even?

Ruchika Goel said...

Its quite evident that so many 'me too' models in Online DVD Space has sprung up.And, have been able to get VC fundings. But, I have my serious doubts! Would it be possible for these online DVD clubs to replicate US based business model in India?

1) As Cram rightly pointed out that there exists too much of piracy in Indian maket. For instance, in Delhi if you go to Palika Bazaar, pirated DVDs of the latest movies are freely available at a very low rates.
2) Then, there exists n no. of neighbourhood DVD libraries which give you the convenience of home delivery and doesnt charge any late fee either.
3) Another technological development that might kill the very need of online DVDs is Video on Demand.

Ajay Dwivedi said...

I agree with Cram. This market is not going to take off. I have put some of my apprehensions in my blog. Not only India is a tough market to crack for this service, the future for the entire DVD renting services seems to be bleak.

Anurag Gupta said...

Dear Anonymous, Rahul & Ruchika - Thanks for writing in.

The business model is of course revenues from "renting" of VCDs/ DVDs, it can be expanded to selling books / music / movies online. Currently the largest cost for a Online rental company will be the cost of the "rolling stock" i.e. the cost of VCDs / DVDs which I understand is around Rs 350 on an average right now. The whole idea will be to get customers to subscribe to monthly unlimited package. If we assume that an average customer will not rent more than 5-7 movies a month. At an average of 500 rupees monthly subscription this will translate to Rs 70-100 per VCD/ DVD.

Why would a consumer choose an online library in the face of pirated movies and local DVD/ VCD rental gigs ?

Well let me take them one by one. Pirated DVD / VCD - Convenience / time saving by not needing to go to Palika and its likes and also better print qualities. Of course I know Palika sells DVDs/ VCDs at around Rs. 70-100.

Local DVD rental Companies - again convenience of ordering online / phone / sms as well as being able to queue requests. How many imes we have gone to local libraries and have tried to thumb through various albums trying to pick up movies we WANT to see ? It is definitely not very convenient for sure. Also with online rental companies one will have access to a much larger database.

As far as Video on Demand is concerned, I am sure these companies can get into that business as a logical extension.

Having said all this I agree it will not be easy for online DVD / VCD rental companies to start making money quickly. It will also remain interesting to see their marketing strategies once they start advertising.

Ashish said...

Hi Anurag
Great post and must say a good summary of the Indian landscape.

iDea Labs

Rohit Mittal said...

Anurag or any other person who reads this,
As you have experience in working in, I would like to ask you that are there users who would like to watch online movies and music videos etc. for a fixed Monthly Rental or ad based movies for FREE via streaming. If this model is started within a year what do you think how fast would users accept it. Only concern being the broadband speed which will slowly be solved.
Ultimately allowing users to upload content and monetizing it. I know there are few sites already doing it but I want to first grab the asian market share.

Please leave your comments.

MONICA said...

I do think that the online rental model will. Work The pirated dvds from Palika are a competetion. However, I think we are missing a key point here which is quality. The quality of DVds at Palika is awful at best and there is sizable market of people who are willing to pay that much extra to watch fine quality rpints which only original dvds can offer. There will always be those who will prefer palika but I think the market for original movies is very much there and the cost of DVds(699 for english) is still too much.

Also the convenience of getting dvds at home is a plus. Not everyone can make trips to palika regularly.

Video on demand is still some way to go.

I think the sites in terms of marketing should hawk their usp i.e. quality and convenience. Competetion from local dvd store can be met by giving the same home delivery service (moviemart does that). The ability to browse from home and create a wish list is a plus. Also if there are reviews from other viewers on the site it would be another plus.

Free first few packages like netflix would attract the skeptical.

I think the model would work.

Anonymous said...

Hi friends ,all the comments posted were very useful but I think that still online dvd rental companies lack the collection that video libraries like Shemaroo have , like none of them have the latest season of The O.C. or las vegas , I think online dvd rental people should increase there inventory and charge a price which is reasonable as well as a helping hand to them in procuring / updating their movie inventory from time to time .

tanul said...

looks like I have stepped into the discussion really late but couldnt resist from saying this. I agree that it may be difficult for Online DVD companies to start breaking even soon for multiple reason including the fact that most people use the net for surfing and checking the mail. But dont think we can write them off completely. I think that the long tail would makes its presence felt in this space. A lot of niche content, independent movies, documentary etc which are not easily available in the black market would get people to flock here specially the afficionados who could be the drivers for this space. They key to cracking this space would be having the right width and depth of content

Nitin A. Khandkar said...

Hi Anurag,

Thanks for this analysis. I too have been tracking this seemingly exciting segment for a while, and my comments are as follows:

1. The biggest downside for DVD rental players such as is that they offer DATED movies, ie., they will only offer genuine movie DVDs, which will hit the market only after a considerable passage of time, after the release of the movie in theatres.
I know of Malaysian pirated DVDs - both English and Hindi movies - reaching the Indian markets no more than 15-30 days after the official release of the movie.

2. Also companies like Moser Baer have launched low priced Hindi and regional language movie DVDs, @ just Rs34 per DVD. Obviously, who's going to rent movie DVDs @ Rs40 or 50, when they can BUY for Rs34, especially in case of Hindi movies which are over a year old?

3. In my view, these issues will put the pricing of online DVD rental companies under pressure. Online rental may well be successful only in case of Hollywood flicks, where viewers would insist on a genuine DVD with good print and surround sound etc. Players like Moser Baer will walk away with most of the market for Hindi and regional language DVDs.

I wonder whether the Moser Baer led shakeout has led to many of the VC / PE investors sweating...

Rana Beteille said...

My family is a member of the Clik-Flix fiasco for nearly a year now….and we are forced to continue since - once the subscription is paid you don’t get the refund.

Firstly, we never get a proper movie during the week ends, even if we book it ten days before….it seems the movies are free only during the week days, as week-ends are for the errand boys to make extra bakshish. Reporting to the head-office doesn’t help, they need cheap labor anyway.

Secondly, the record of Clik Flix may show a disc issued in your name, the collection boy may also come to collect it from your house, repeatedly……but you may not find it in your house – since it is not delivered in the first place. Issuing a disc to customer and then rotating the disc among all and sundry before delivering to the customer - is quite a common practice that happens regularly.

Third – the movie that you have booked 5 days back is delivered to you after eight o’clock on a Sunday evening – that is called Just in Time delivery – the Click Flix way.

Quite a lot of the discs are scratched and after watching through half of the movie, you spend the rest of the time on FF / RW / Play buttons to make the other half work – that is customer satisfaction - the Click Flix way

My above observations are not for a one-of case, they maintain their consistency – the Click Flix way. It is an epitome of mismanagement and malpractice and run like the Pan Shop video library – only for a higher rent. I have really burnt my fingers trying to subscribe to a Video library a la “Blokbuster” of US and Europe, but Click Flix tuned out to be the same Pan shop library in a different package.

For your info, I do not own any video parlor in competition to Click Flix and my opinion is a pure customer’s opinion. I work for an IT company and don’t tolerate nonsense with my hard earned money.

HiPath 3000 said...

Interesting stuff

aufkleber druck said...

Good Job! :)

Meenakshi Singh said...

You forgot to tell about .they even posses physical outlets unlike the other competitors.

Meenakshi Singh said...

You forgot to tell about .they even posses physical outlets unlike the other competitors.

Anonymous said...

i have tried and will say they have let me down.... forget email answers from them. for me its ebay,, the prices of most dvds are quite resonable and its makes better sense to buy & watch at own time.

Anonymous said...

as movie buff I prefer to buy dvds. and hav e built good collection but extremly poor response. for used stuff i prefer otherwise or works great.

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Internet Business said...

Hello friends, all the comments posted were very helpful, but I still think the DVD rental companies lack the online collection of video libraries and Shemaroo are, as none of them has the final season of The OC and Las Vegas I think that people online dvd rental inventory should increase and not charge a price that is reasonable, and a helping hand to them in the acquisition and updating its inventory of movies from time to time.