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Reliance ADAG resurrects Bigflix after year-long delay

Reliance ADAG has relaunched its streaming service Bigflix, one year after it said it would do so. Reliance launched Bigflix in 2007 as a DVD rental service. With a home-delivery system as well as storefronts, Bigflix operated in seven cities in its peak. The company started streaming video in 2008, becoming one of the first to do so in India. They have now ‘relaunched’ that streaming service, at a monthly pricing of ₹50. With a redesigned app and website, Bigflix now has movies in English, Sinhala, and ten Indian languages.

Note that Reliance Communications, the telecommunications arm of Reliance ADAG, had mentioned that video takes up almost of 40% of data used and with more telcos offering 4G speeds, it seems that relaunching the service would seem logical. In many ways, Bigflix was the pioneer in video streaming services. It understood that in India users would prefer offline viewing. Netflix too has relented and is offering offline downloads now. It remains to be seen how its video service’s adoption will be this time and how it will stack up against Hotstar.

Overview of catalogue and app

Other streaming services offer most Hindi-language content on Bigflix, searching some of the catalogue on the search engine JustWatch reveals. Very few films are available exclusively, and all the ones advertised on the top banner are available elsewhere. As before, there are no TV shows on the service.

The catalogue has films from Dharma Productions, Disney, Viacom18, Phantom, Telugu One, and Rajshri.

The app and website both closely imitate the design and functionality of Netflix, the company that served as a model for much of Bigflix’s operations. The interface for downloading, switching profiles, and browsing the catalogue is very similar to Netflix as well.

Background

Bigflix started DVD operations in 2007, in the same year that Netflix, then ten years old, started streaming video on the Internet. Following suit, Bigflix became one of the first services in India to offer movies online next year. After announcing ambitious plans for an international expansion, it leased some of its catalogue to Hulu in the US. With this renewed launch, which had press events in both India as well as Dubai, Bigflix hopes to continue its international efforts.

In 2011, the streaming company announced that it was shutting down its directly owned DVD storefronts, and would be pivoting to an online subscription model. ₹500 crores of investment later, the company was having trouble making its money back. It announced a monthly subscription fee of ₹250, taking a page from Netflix. With its current relaunch, that price has been brought down to a fifth of that amount, to ₹50.

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