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On AVM Productions releasing direct-to-Internet movie on YouTube

AVM Productions

Chennai-based film production house AVM Productions has released a short 55 minutes Tamil film Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum on its YouTube channel, reports The Economic Times.

The movie is currently available for free on AVM Production’s YouTube channel and will be ad-supported. Film producer Aruna Guhan has told the publication that it will have 2 or 3 one minute ads in between, although we noticed that the movie has around seven ads, each around 15-30 seconds duration. The movie is initially available in India and will be released overseas after a month.

From the looks of it, this movie seems to be a direct-to-Internet movie (correct us if we are wrong). Aparna Guhan, the film’s other producer had earlier mentioned that they were looking to release this film on YouTube, Amazon and Netflix among others since they find its reach “incredible”.

Couple of points to consider:

Movie Production houses & Direct-to-Internet movies: It’s interesting that film production houses are now experimenting with direct-to-Internet movies in India. If it works out, they could possibly produce more small budget films and release them online, which they probably wouldn’t have released in theatres.

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I am curious to see whether other production houses will also follow suit and release direct-to-Internet movies in the country. For instance, Yash Raj Films could release such movies through its youth films studio Y-Films. There is also an opportunity for Eros International to release such movies considering that it also has an online movie streaming site Eros Now.

Online movie streaming sites as alternative distribution channel? As per an Indiantelevision report, only 35%-40% of around 1,000 movies made in India get a proper theatrical release across the country. As far as I remember, India’s Oscar entry ‘The Good Road‘ also never made it to theatres here.

This provides a significant opportunity for online movie streaming sites like YouTube, Spuul, BoxTV and BigFlix among others to offer these movies, thereby acting as an alternate distribution channel for these movies. Viewers also get original content rather than seeing the mainstream movies about a month or two after its theatrical release, which potentially incentivize users to sign up for these services and generate more revenue for these companies.

Effect on mainstream movies? Movie productions houses opting for an online premiere of its movies is not particularly new: Rajshri Productions had taken this route with Vivah way back in 2007-08, while YouTube had premiered Hindi movie Striker for overseas audience in 2010 and Puja Entertainment’s F.A.L.T.U, was released online worldwide (besides India) in 2011.  More recently, Abhay Deol had premiered One by Two on Facebook while Aankhon Dekhi producer Rajat Kapoor had premiered the movie for International audiences on Spuul.

However these traditionally have been limited for International audiences and movies are released online in India only after a window of about three weeks to several months. If this move works and productions studios witness a significant usage online, its possible that these studios will experiment with lowering its window for mainstream movies to about one week (or even less) in the country. Note that films make an estimated 70% of their theatrical revenues in the first weekend itself.

The Big Problems

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Monetization: The biggest problem that online video players currently face in the country is monetization. In fact, the only content platform that has worked so far in India is YouTube, because they’ve got the audience, the content and more importantly, the advertisers. If production houses are not able to make significant profit or else even recover the production costs, it’s possible that these initiatives will remain as pilots.

Internet Speeds: Another major problem is the broadband speeds and the irritating fair usage policies by ISPs. The country reportedly has the lowest broadband speeds in Asia Pacific with average connection speed of 1.4Mbps, as per the latest Akamai report.

It’s possible that 4G services could address this problem if and when it goes mainstream in India, although we hope that telcos don’t implement similar fair usage policies on these services.

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