Yahoo India has launched MoviePlex, a video destination allowing users to access licensed full-length movies for free on the Internet, on demand. Yahoo! India has said that it will collaborate with leading movie production houses to bring ‘ thousands of local “Bollywood” movies’ online to users for a piracy-free, quality entertainment experience. Movies currently available on Movieplex include Rock On, Rann, Dil to Baccha Hai Ji, Crook, Rakta Charitra and others.
This service comes at a time when Google owned video streaming service YouTube has introduced free movies for India, through its YouTube Box Office service, while Reliance entertainment’s movie rental service BigFlix is testing waters in the online movie rental space, ramping down its physical DVD libraries. So, big internet players have actually realised that the only way Indian audiences would watch movies online is by offering them for free, and earning revenues through advertisement deals.
The service is supported by advertisers like LG and Maruti Suzuki, and although there were no pre-streaming video ads, the entire movie page features branding from the advertiser. Users can watch movies full screen, and share the stream’s link with their friends on Social Networks, Facebook and Twitter. At the time of writing this post, Yahoo is featuring the service on its India and India Movies home page.
‘A’ Rated Movies?
Many of the featured movies on Yahoo have been rated ‘A’ or Adult by the Indian censor board. Video streaming sites like YouTube and DailyMotion, need users to register and login to confirm their age before allowing access to an adult rated video. Although, there is no mechanism to check if the user is actually over the defined age limit on these sites, Yahoo just gives a simple warning, and does not require users to register. However, since many of these movies have also been aired on national television, it might be possible that the web versions have been edited to suit a universal audience.
A Move To Counter Google’s YouTube Box Office?
In June, YouTube had launched ad-supported full movie streaming through a dedicated YouTube Box Office channel, with Intel as an advertiser, and content partners like Nirvana Digital, Shemaroo and Yashraj Films, among others, where it features a premium film every month, for free for its audience. It seems like Yahoo intends to counter Box Office, with a similarly named service, following almost the same model.
In an interview with MediaNama, Anis Tadvi, VP-Distribution, Nirvana Digital, had said that all content partnerships are on a revenue share basis until a brand sponsor already exists in the equation exclusively, in which case the monetization from the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) is better. He had mentioned that Nirvana’s partnership with YouTube depended on the latter’s willingness to run Box Office and on sponsors, and that there was no long term deal. YouTube offers the same and more movies on a rental basis in the US market.
Again, like we’ve said time and again, we wonder how many people will actually watch a complete movie stream, keeping in mind the low bandwidth, poor latency and Fair Usage Policy data caps imposed by ISPs. Although ISPs like Airtel have different standards for users of their own VOD services. In June, Airtel had partnered BIGFlix to offer online video content providing streaming of 500 movies a month, alongwith 100 TV shows, 100 trailers, and 100 music videos.