DTH to transform movie watching & revenue generation

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DTH to transform movie watching & revenue generation
13 Sep, 2008, 0110 hrs IST,Rajiv Banerjee, ET Bureau

Call it the big bang effect. A parallel to the massive explosion which led to an expansion of the universe billions of years ago is now being witnessed in the DTH space in India. As more and more conglomerates ready for a battle in the DTH market, a big bang is inevitable.

And as the DTH heavyweights collide in the galactic battle, a new lifeline, more appropriately a new revenue stream, is slowly coming to life. As the fight to lure viewers to their respective DTH platforms begins, movies will become a staple offering by every DTH player in India.

And it is this content requirement which could end up becoming the proverbial manna from heaven for a select band of people — movie production houses.

While the scenario is still sometime away from becoming a full blown viable proposition, hectic parleys are on between DTH players and production houses on creating mutually beneficial relationships between the two parties.

Vikram Kaushik, MD & CEO, Tata Sky is cautiously optimistic about the revenue potential of movie content broadcast on the DTH platform. “One has to understand that watching a movie on TV is a different activity compared to watching it in multiplexes which is a family affair.

Broadcasters understood the importance of movies long before DTH players came into the picture. Therefore, there is a large choice of movies,” explains Kaushik. He, however, adds that what DTH can do is enrich the pay per view (PPV) experience. “It becomes an appointment viewing for the viewer.”

The DTH market in India is nascent considering the fact that it touches around 6 million houses across India, compared to 80 million cable & satellite households presently. But industry observers believe that the DTH market will grow exponentially and is estimated to touch 37 mn subscribers by 2010.

Tony D’Silva, COO, Sun Direct TV, which is now planning to spread its wings across India, says that the first focus will be to garner audience using GEC content. “Around 70 % of the audience segment wants GEC content, we will cater to that.

The rest we will target through movies using the high definition route. We have the capacity to launch HD channels and we are in the midst of aggregating content for that,” D’Silva states.

While there’s early tentativeness on the potential of movie content from players, it’s not stopping them from sewing up deals with production houses to acquire movie title rights. Sun Direct’s D’Silva says the company has initiated discussions with major studios like Disney and Paramount to acquire English movie rights.

“Our view is to acquire content not available to others,” he states. Likewise, Dish TV from the Zee network group, has tied up with Sony Pictures and BVI and has access to Zee cinema library for Hindi movies. “The biggest challenge is to get recent titles.

DTH to transform movie watching & revenue generation- Media-Media / Entertainment -News By Industry-News-The Economic Times

It’s only then that the traction will happen. The potential is there if the market evolves and players acquire sizeable critical mass,” says Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV. Kaushik of Tata Sky says that they have tied up with UTV to broadcast recent movie titles.

“We are talking to Warner, Fox and even looking to buy movies from Star and Sony TV,” he says. The recently launched Big TV DTH is taking multiple initiatives to bring movies in English, Hindi and also regional languages. “This would air over 600 new movies every year. Over and above the subscription revenues, there are multiple revenue streams, that we want to build,” the spokesperson added.

Internationally, PPV has not become a major revenue earner for DTH platforms and at best remains a flagship business. Players in India believe that the Indian market too will follow a similar trajectory. However, what will give movie watching on DTH a fillip is the growing legitimate home video market through DVDs, digital cable and IPTV.

And it is this growing market which has got movie production houses to realise that DTH can become another addition to multiple revenue streams. “The revenue streams for producers have been distribution and television rights. With PPV, one can look at revenue share. It’s like tapping a vein of gold. One needs to tap it slowly so that it develops gradually,” explains Kaushik.

Saurabh Verma, CMO, Big Pictures says movie production houses and studios are already putting in DTH rights in selling the rights of movies contracts. “This is a stream which every producer will eventually get into. There are various marketing techniques available right now which are being thought about right during the scripting stage itself,” explains Verma.

Aditya Shastri, COO, People Pictures concurs with that adding that new technology betters the monetizing prospects for all producers. “DTH is one more revenue stream which currently generates as much as a DVD rental does with similar revenue splits. Also, what was one big grey area of revenue is now clearly defined,” he says. According to Shastri, the biggest advantage of DTH is that it reaches where cinema halls have not yet reached.

“For example, Lakshwadeep has no cinema halls at all but they have DTH so what may have been a piracy market gets converted into a pay-per-view (PPV) market. Of course the PPV will get split into many more with IPTV etc all set to come in,” predicts Shastri.

On the marketing techniques, Verma of Big Pictures elucidates examples like uncut versions and star endorsements which will act as value-adds provided by the producers to DTH players. “If I am making a film, I can add extra footage or create limited edition merchandise or have activations like ‘Meet the Stars’ exclusively for subscribers of a particular DTH platform,” he says.

Kapoor of Dish TV says that there are multiple ways of tapping the potential. “The title can be sold with a minimum guarantee or share per view. Depending on the viewership, revenues can be split,” explains Kapoor.

Another possibility of a synergy that is being looked at by DTH players is the simultaneous release of movies, both in theatres as well as DTH platform. “Premieres can happen both in cinemas and DTH as the market evolves,” says D’Silva.

Kaushik believes simultaneous release enables both parties to monetise as well as kill piracy. He says that the company has initiated discussions with some producers but there’s still some to go before things turn around. “Some interest is there, but the basic apprehension is its impact on theatrical collections,” he remarks.

If such an arrangement is indeed arrived at, it will enable DTH players to showcase recent titles which could create stickiness for the PPV offering. However, Verma of Big Pictures believes theatrical releases will still be the prime driver and DTH will augment it and will not ride simultaneously with cinemas.

“Yes, one can look at movies made exclusively for DTH platforms. It’s a question of market dynamics: if there’s a demand, then content will be created,” he states.

So even as one braces for the blitzkrieg by DTH players, both parties realise that amidst the high decibel in this market, there will be challenges as well as opportunities. The process of testing the waters has started. Like any good Hindi potboiler, one can expect some interesting twists in the plot in the time to come.


Airtel 4G
Video (Movie) on demand is the major source of revenue for DTH (& IPTV) operators. More the people start using this services, more revenue is earned. But so far in India, MOD doesn't seem that popular, if prices are kept competative, certainly MOD subscription will increase


Staff member
vOd is not going to work when the companies provide shitty movies at even shittier prices.