Forget about going to a movie hall, or buying a VCD to see your favourite Bollywood blockbuster. You can now do so sitting in the comfort of your home by downloading them to the PC or your television set through the Net.
Movie production houses such as Rajshri Productions, Global Distributors and producers such as Eros International have taken the first steps to change the way you see Bollywood movies.
A few months ago, Rajshri Media launched a Web site, www.rajshri.com from which one can download movies, music, favourite dialogues, scenes from the movie and so on. The company has also put up its first movie - Vivah - which was premiered both on the net as well as the movie halls on the same day.
Eros International, which holds rights to 1,300 movie titles, offers video-on-demand through their Web site www.bondemand.tv. For the online Bollywood service the company has a strategic technology and marketing alliance with Intel Corporation.
In addition, Eros has also has an alliance with Microsoft, under which consumers with a Microsoft media centre edition PC and a combination of Intel ViiV technology can connect wirelessly to any big screen including TV. It means that consumers will be able to access this content directly on their television via Intel ViiV enabled PC's.
A consumer does not have to go to any Web site if they have this system in place, they can access the service and get a full screen living room experience. The initiative with Intel viiv was launched at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas early this month.
The first movie to be released through this technology was Bollywood star Arjun Rampal's 'I see You'. Of course the main market for the downloads is the large 35million strong NRI market.
"Physical distribution of movies through DVDs, film prints and so on is difficult in the overseas market. With the high web proliferation in the homes abroad, making Bollywood content available on an internet portal seems to be the most viable and profitable option," says Jyoti Deshpande, COO with Eros International.
Adds managing director of Rajshri Media, Rajat Barjatya, "This newer medium allows us to showcase our movies in newer markets and reach out to newer audiences who do not have any access to Bollywood content." Presently, the movies are uploaded a few days or weeks after the theatrical release of the film.
US, Canada and UK constitute over 70-75 per cent of the total international online movie revenues at the moment . And US alone makes for 50 per cent of the market.
"We have witnessed downloads from places like Tunisia, Scandinavia, Finland, Norway and so on. The online service will help fill the gap piracy occupies in territories where there is no access to legal Bollywood content," says Barjatya.
The success of the initial moves has surprised many players. For instance as much as 10 -20 per cent of the revenues for the movie 'Vivah' came from the online distribution network.
Adds Deshpande, "Digital downloads in our expectation will take over market share from physical DVDs while the physical DVD 9 market will shift to High Definition DVDs as the space evolves. We not only have new films (we release about 30-35 every year) but also have a catalogue of 1300 plus titles."
For consumers especially abroad, broadband downloads of movies is also cheaper than going to a movie hall. For instance ticket for a Bollywood movie would cost $8 to $12 per head in the US . Consumers have two options -- either rent the content or outright purchase.
While content from the Rajshri Web site can be obtained at a cost of $9.99 for a movie, Eros has differential pricing for different markets. For instance, a movie download in the US will range between $4 to $9 on rental. For eDVD (it's a soft version of a DVD), the charge is $12.99.
Rental download is available for 48 hours after which the license expires. Also, the pricing of the movie-on-demand depends on whether the online movie is released after it has been released in theatres, or has been released along with theatre release, or it has been released only in theatress. "By default we prefer not to release a movie after it has been released on DVD," says Deshpande.
A consumer with a 2MB line (which is almost basic level in any country) should be able to download a DVD quality film within 15-20 minutes subject no other extraneous factors affecting the service.
However, the problem users based in India face is of the bandwidth. Due to low bandwidth downloading Bollywood content from a portal takes considerable long.