Monday, December 22, 2008

Bigflix mulls 'movie downloads to TV' service

Mumbai-based, an online DVD rental firm owned by the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), is contemplating launching a new service – movie downloads via a set-top box – which will allow dowloading and streaming of movies and other video content from its online portal and play it directly on the television. BigFlix’s movie download services are currently through computers and broadband platforms.

“The concept is currently being experimented by many companies abroad. We are already in talks with several potential OEM vendors to source the set-top boxes, and our in-house tech support team is working on issues related to navigation, interface and convenience of use. We will be launching this service in less than two years from now,” Kamal Gianchandani, chief operating officer of Bigflix, told Business Standard.

Netflix, a US-based online DVD rental subscription services company, had already tied up with LG Electronics in January 2008 to produce set-top boxes that streams movies from its online catalog to televisions. “The organised movie rental market stood at $9 billion while the DVD sell through market was at $16.5 billion in the US in 2007. In India, the organised movie rental market has the potential to touch Rs 900 crore in the next two and a half years,” he added.

Gianchandani said the company plans to fund this ‘first-time-in-India’ initiative partly through the Rs 450-crore investment channelised through ADAG – envisaged to be spent in the next four and a half years on expanding its offline movie rental store network – and the rest through internal accruals.

“We are planning to take advantage of the reduction in property rentals. Our immediate plan is to take the tally of our outlets to 200 by the end of the current financial year, from the present 112 across 10 cities, and eventually enhance the network to 500 stores in the next four years. Of these 30 per cent will come up in south,” he said, adding that each of these would have an average carpet area of 350 sft entailing an investment of Rs 8 lakh.


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