Balaji Telefilms executives said Reliance JioFiber’s First Day First Show announcement is a “very positive development” as measures to spread high-speed internet to the masses fits Balaji’s strategy. The executives were responding to a question by Pradeep Barsagade of Edelweiss Securities, during the company’s Q1FY20 investor call, on how Balaji  being a producer views the development. The call was attended by Balaji Telefilms’ group CFO Sanjay Dwivedi and group CEO and CEO of ALT Digital Nachiket Pantvaidya.

On being prodded further, a company executive said “I’m sure there’s economics behind it. You should ask somebody at Reliance what that is.” He explained that Balaji is “happy to create movie that reach out to maximum number of consumers” although the economics of that decide how our P&L looks, “but from a conceptual angle if it reaches out to 10x the number of subscribers that it does today is a release that is always very, very good”.

The company executive also contested that maximum monetisation in films comes for theatrical releases and multiplexes, saying was the model 3-4 years ago, and today the there’s an “equal contribution on the digital in satellite rights for monetization”. Today, studios are getting “increasingly used to getting minimum guarantees or getting one-sale model. If you notice in our earlier opening speech we said our business is secure, because we have presold our digital satellite music as well as domestic theatrical distribution rights. So we are okay as long as it makes economic sense for us.”

The executive even questioned Barsagade asking if he was “privy to what cost will it [the movie rights] be sold at”.

Those economic models are getting established without knowing what cost they will be sold, it is difficult to combine. If I make a film for Rs.100 and somebody takes and all out buy out from Rs.150 Crores I might happy to sell it.

INOX, PVR defend theatrical windows

Reliance JioFiber was announced last week by Mukesh Ambani at Reliance’s annual general meeting. Multiplex players INOX and PVR immediately defended the long-standing theatrical release window, essentially placing their views on Reliance JioFiber’s offering ‘First Day First Show’, which would let premium users watch movies the same day that they are released in theaters.

PVR pointed out that the theatrical release window has been a ‘valuable model’, producers have maintained a ‘sacrosanct gap’ between a theatrical release and release on all other platforms like DVD, DTH, TV, and OTTs. Both INOX and PVR noted that this is a model followed internationally and replicated in India, and it is how the multiplex business has remained viable.

The film producer is the owner of the creative content and is entitled to choose the platform for distribution and consumption of his content, said INOX. In a scenario where movies can be released on theaters or on other platforms, the producer would have to choose between either theatrical exhibition or release on any other platform “since release on both simultaneously would breach the mutually agreed exclusive theatrical window”.