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Transactional video on demand (TVoD) or pay-per-view is the latest blockbuster in the world of OTT streaming platforms. After Zee5 introduced it last year, Eros Now and BookMyShow are now also on the cart. BookMyShow Stream, the ticket platform’s TVoD service, launched with Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984Eros Now’s First Day, First Show will debut with Greenland, an action thriller starring Gerard Butler. Meanwhile, ZeePlex was launched in October 2020 with an exclusive showcase of Khaali Peeli and Tamil movie Ka Pae Ranasingam.
Pay per view is an established model in markets such as the US and UK. According to Statista, the US TVoD market is expected to reach $ 2,064 million by 2021. In India, where nearly 67% of a filmmaker’s revenue comes from theatrical releases (according to ICICI Securities) and digital rights account for 5.9% of the money earned from a film, can TVoD make a significant contribution?
Since film producers started opting for digital first releases as a result of the pandemic, the media and entertainment industry has considered a hybrid model to show movies, such as the one Netflix used for The Irishman – a limited theatrical release, followed by the OTT -premiere.
All those launching TVoD platforms say a curated selection of movies will premiere online. “Fresh premium content will move to TVoD first, and fixed subscription platforms will continue to be home to large content libraries,” said Pradeep Dwivedi, CEO of Eros International. Eros Now First Day, First Show plans to add nine films from the STX Films stable to the TVoD offering over the next 18 months.
Since launch, ZeePlex has premiered movies such as the Russell Crowe starrer On the loose and Diljit Dosanjh’s Suraj Pe Mangal BhariIt will add regional movies like Ninnila Ninnila, Awanchit and Puaada in the next months.
BookMyShow launched its own streaming platform in July 2020 when events went online, and followed it up by introducing a pay-per-view platform. Contrary to popular belief, Ashish Saksena, COO – Cinemas, BookMyShow, argues that the TVoD venture is not just a product of the pandemic and reduced attendance in theaters. “TVoD allows users to pay only for the content they watch, which is a common trend in other world markets, but not yet widespread in India,” he adds.
Typically, movies premiere on digital platforms about six to eight weeks after their theatrical release. With the introduction of TVoD, all stakeholders will have to agree on a window model to account for the new revenue stream. “The success of this model depends on the arrangement of the window coverings. We don’t have anything like this in India yet, ”says Jehil Thakkar, partner, Deloitte.
Kunal Sawhney, SVP, Carnival Cinemas, says producers are negotiating to shorten the duration of a movie in a theater. In July 2020, Universal Pictures signed a deal with AMC Theaters (a chain of theaters in the US) to run movies for at least three weekends – less than three months – before they were available for rent or for sale online. A smaller theatrical window would mean that viewers are less likely to choose a cinema room than to watch at home.
Eros Now’s Dwivedi says movies streamed on First Day, First Show will stay on the platform for four weeks. After this, the studio will make a decision on the subsequent SVoD OTT and TV broadcast. In the US, for example, Mulan premiered on a pay-per-view basis on Disney + in October and was finally available to all Disney + paid subscribers in December.
Will TVoD have many fans in this market? Greg Armshaw, senior director – solution sales, Brightcove APAC, thinks so. “A majority of Indian viewers opt for shorter SVoD plans instead of investing in annual plans. Additionally, 40% of viewers don’t mind paying to watch movies online. “
However, Thakkar says TVoD appeals to an audience with a high disposable income who can afford to watch movies in theaters, but chooses not to. But that audience is quite small in India.
Ultimately, it is the nature of the movie that will decide whether viewers want to spend extra (on top of SVoD fees) to rent / buy movies. Shariq Patel, Zee Studios chief business officer, hopes this model will work better “when larger movies are released in this format.”