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Home video market goes north

With the prices of DVD players falling as fast as the incomes of middle India are rising, the home video market has become the fastest growing segment of our film industry, reports Renuka Bisht.

india Updated: Aug 06, 2007 02:13 IST
Renuka Bisht

Aamir Khan donned his Lagaan dhoti once again last month. The occasion: the release of a special anniversary edition of this 2001 blockbuster. Even as the Khan exhorted every Indian to step out and stock up on the film, his elated partner Excel Home Videos chirruped that, at 2.5 lakhs units sold, the DVD/VCD sales of Lagaan had actually outstripped those of Sholay itself.

With the prices of DVD players falling as fast as the incomes of middle India are rising, the home video market has become the fastest growing segment of our film industry. Last year, while the industry grew at 24 per cent, its home video sector grew at a whopping 63 per cent, according to the FICCI-PwC Frames 2007 report. It is projected to generate 14 per cent of our film revenues by 2011 as opposed to 6 per cent in 2004. DVD/VCD ownership is also growing at a pace of over 25 percent.

Experts suggest that the new owners are less likely to be seduced by pirated products than their predecessors, simply because plummeting costs are making originals more than affordable. To take a much-advertised example, Moser Baer has recently released Lage Raho MunnaBhai DVD for just Rs 34. Yuvraj Varma points out that his company is not confining itself to Hindi sales, instead choosing to aggressively market titles in everything from Bengali to Bhojpuri.

Online rentals are also rising, with the benchmark being set in the US by Netflix, which raked in $997 million, up 46 per cent from 2005. Buoyed by the prospect of similar prosperity, entrepreneurs like Raghav Kher have set up virtual video parlors in India. Launched just last March, his company Seventymm has already acquired more than 25,000 subscribers.

But Kher says his growth story has barely been set in motion. With around 1.5 million DVD players being sold every month in India, he is looking to capture 100,000 customers by next summer and a million by 2010. Reliance Entertainment, not surprisingly, is also preparing to enter this sector; for now, its rental portal bigflicks.com is offering a tempting photograph of a bowl of popcorn propped against a comfy couch.

And it’s not just the Aamir Khans of our world who should be closely watching this market, because it could prove to be a phenomenal cash cow even for the likes of Ekta Kapoor and other small screen producers.