On Sunday morning, I suddenly stumbled on an ad for BigFlix.com, telling me that I can watch Sudhir Mishra's movie, Inkaar, only recently released, online.
The joy of this is that you can resume where you left off viewing, and do it whenever you have the time or inclination - like
we always used to read about it.
This is what I have been talking about and waiting for in the rise of the Internet Revolution - the end of prime-time as we know it.
I have reasons to believe the current financial year that started this month could spell an inflexion point, with online video viewing suddenly growing in leaps and bounds.
There are sound reasons for this. Broadband penetration in India is at 130 million or so. Tablets are exploding, and tablet PCs dramatically enhance the convenience of watching Internet videos, as you can lean back on your sofa and watch a video, just as you would with a conventional TV. Digital TV boxes like Boxee and the coming of similar devices backed by Apple and Google are going to only increase the convenience levels for viewers.
With well over 800 million mobile connections in India, and smartphones and tablets increasingly available in the sub Rs. 5,000 and sub-Rs 10,000 range, the conversion of tens of millions of mobile customers into video customers seems highly probable this year.
Understandably, there are firms gearing up to boost online broadcast (is that the right word anymore, as what you are doing now is "custom-cast"?).
Sites like BoxTV.com have joined others like iStream.com for legal, digital rights-enabled videos. YouTube is a place where we can watch lots of videos, but Google, which owns the site, is steadily progressing as a media broadcaster, with everything from TV news channels and IPL matches now available live on it.
Not surprisingly, this shows up in the advertising industry figures. Last week, the Internet an Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said India's online advertising expenditure will grow to Rs. 2,938 crore in 2013-14, marking the second successive year of annual growth at a clip of around 30%. This includes search, display, mobile, social media, email and video advertising, which were collectively valued at around Rs. 1,750 crore in 2011-12. In effect, the market is seen doubling in about two-and-a-half years. Video advertising now has a 7% share in the pie, at Rs. 150 crore. I am expecting this share to dramatically improve this year.
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