YouTube to launch pay per view service in India, eyes regional TV content

Google’s YouTube may soon offer pay-per-view services or ‘rental’ model for its Indian viewers, according to a newspaper report.  Through this model viewers will be able to pay a one-time fee to stream the movie for a limited amount of time, reports The Hindu.

Gautam Anand, Director, Content Partnerships, Google Asia Pacific told the newspaper:

“Our pay-per-view services or ‘rental’ model is a natural step here in India for the partners that we are working with. For instance, Eros Entertainment who has been with us for a long time already has a lot of content up on YouTube”

YouTube has been introducing rental model in various countries including Australia, Korea and Japan over the past 2 years, however it is going to be a new experience for Indian users, who till now access a limited set of movies on its platform for free.

The back story and the big play

In June 2011, Youtube India has launched blockbuster channel that started showing 1 blockbuster movie every month for free (not ad-free). Striker was the first Indian movie to debut on Youtube. The video sharing site had partnered with major Indian broadcasters like Sony Entertainment Television, Colors, ImagineTV, Star India, and VikatanTV to bring the TV shows online.The major challenge faced by Youtube in introducing rental model is payment mechanism such as carrier billing, on which it is working upon.

Online Video Industry in India: A Quick Recap

Earlier in January this year, BigFlix, a part of Reliance Group’s Digital Entertainment Business launched BigFlix, an online movie on demand service that allows the user to watch movies by paying a monthly subscription fee. It claimed to have crossed the 20,000 paid subscribers mark in the same month.

In September 2012, Times Internet Limited had launched BoxTV.com, an online video service that offers premium content like movies, television shows and short films. The company has tied up with a dozen content providers, including, Sony, UTV, Shemaroo, Rajshri,Lehren and Zoom. For revenues, BoxTV is banking on ad sales and subscription. The consumer profile will be a mix of free users (who will get access to limited content) and paid subscribers.

These moves, though very early, could be a sign of things to come. India, which has a large section of Internet users going online to watch videos and movies, could be at the cusp of a change similar to the one that took place in the US. In August it was reported by market research group IHS Screen Digest that the level of subscribers to pay-TV in the US had dropped by almost 350,000 during the second quarter of 2012, which represents the largest fall in the industry’s history. As per IHS’s analysis Netflix was pulling viewers away from traditional pay-TV.

Youtube is also eyeing to tap the potential of regional television, which contributes the overall 30 % of total television broadcast in India. To create awareness it has been undertaking awareness through YouTube’s Partner Program on how regional content producers in South India can make money by putting up their videos on YouTube.

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