Reliance Communications (RCOM) has partnered with its sister concern and Reliance ADA Group owned online video content service provider, BigFlix, to offer full length movies to Reliance mobile’s 3G subscribers. The company claims it is the first telecom operator to offer a ‘full length’ movie streaming service in the country.
Enabling the service: Reliance 3G users can head over to vod.rcom.co.in on their mobile phones to browse the existing movie catalogue and choose a movie of their preference to start watching it. Reliance stated that it will be offering this service for Rs 30 per movie with no additional data charges or any hidden cost. The company also added that unlike other video streaming services, the consumer will have to pay for only the content and not for the data that has been used to view this content. Hence, we assume that Reliance will be streaming these movies free of cost to its subscribers. The company stated that users can stream video content across smartphones, tablets amongst others.
Movies Offered: The service currently offers Bollywood movies across various genres like Comedy, Thriller, Drama, Romance and Action. At the time of writing this article, the website offered around 22 full length movies including titles like Dabangg, Bodyguard, Aarakshan, Jab We Met, Force, Hate Story, Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani, and Race among others. Apart from full length movies, the site also offered film based promotional content such as trailers, music videos, and movie clips for free.
Other Players: Other players in this segment include DigiVive which had recently launched an operator agnostic mobile TV app nexGTv, ZengaTV which had partnered with ETV Network and RAJ Network to offer their channels on its TV service, Apalya Technologies which has distribution deals with Tata Teleservices, Virgin Mobile, Reliance Communications, MTS / Shyam Sistema, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, Aircel, BSNL and MTNL and Geodesic’s Mundu TV. Vuclip also has a mobile movie portal called Starlight Cinema through which it claimed to offer more than 9000 movie clips in 13 Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi, Oriya, Rajasthani, Kashmiri, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
Will It Work? While we’re happy that the pay per view charges also cover data costs since 3G tariffs are still not as affordable as broadband ones, we’re not sure if users would watch full length movies on their phones due to their small screen size and limited battery life. However, the service might attract tablet users since tablets offer more screen real estate and battery capacity. BigFlix already offers tablet apps for the iPad and Android tablets, but users need a BigFlix+ membership to watch movies through the app.
Previous partnerships: In April 2012, Reliance Communications had inked an exclusive two-year partnership with Google to promote Android handsets in India. Under this partnership, R-COM had stated that it will create exclusive data plans, services, operator billing, exclusive apps and content in addition to expert customer care and dedicated Android experience zones at Reliance retail outlets across the country. The company had also announced a new 3G data plan offering 1GB free data to all new and existing pre-paid and postpaid customers who buy a new Google endorsed Android device during April 15- June 15, 2012 in Reliance 3G circles. However, the 1GB data was to be utilized within 30 days for pre pay customers and 1-month for post pay customers.
On the other hand, BigFlix had partnered with Sony India to offer a movie on demand app, BigFlix Plus, for Sony Tablets and Sony Bravia TVs with plans to extend the service to VAIO Laptops and Xperia smartphones in the future. Earlier, it had partnered with Samsung to launch a Video on Demand application called My Movies, which offered full length feature films on Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy S II smartphones and Galaxy Tab 750 tablet.