Your smartphone is next: Bollywood, TV industry eye the smaller screen for big money
New Delhi: It might come as a surprise but the world’s largest cinema industry, Bollywood, does not rake in huge profits each year. The movies Bollywood produces has no dearth of entertainment, but when it comes to money, it disappoints many a time. Burdened with losses and lack of avenues, the film and television industry is now hoping to generate revenue by tapping India’s growing fondness for smartphones.
The smartphone market is booming in the subcontinent and the plans of connecting the country with 4G internet services is what has gathered the attention of the entertainment industry.
In a country with a population of 1.3 billion, India has about 10,000 cinemas which comes to around 8 theatres per million. The numbers are quite low as compared to USA, which has 120 per million and China, which has 30 for every 1 million of its population. The scarcity of cinemas forces viewers to turn to pirated content for entertainment, a trend that has cost the industry 30 per cent of its potential annual gross collections.
Revenue experts feel that paying on phones from entertainment content has the potential to become bigger than the box office. Though, they agree that bringing in even a small portion of people to pay for it is quite a challenge.
It is expected that this year, cheap and fast broadband service will connect millions of Indians. Reliance industries is said to roll out its fastest Reliance Jio services this year, and players like Airtel, Idea and Vodafone are already reducing Internet charges. Owing to these drastic changes in mobile data, Indian usage has soared, outpacing global peers, for providers like YouTube.
Apart from films and TV content, what interests viewers these days are studio-made songs and clips, according to analysts of YouTube.
The industry is pinning its hopes on curbing rampant piracy by providing content, like a movie, at costs as low as Rs 25. Yet, the challenge lies in getting viewers to pay for the content.
Industry insiders assert that Indians are reluctant to pay for content because they feel that they are already paying for Internet. They also know that running on the model like United States is not feasible in India so they will have to come up with a more acceptable plan here; one which largely relies on unique content which grabs the attention of viewers. What makes them positive that a model like this might work in India is the increased usage of credit cards for small payments on phone.
Consultants see the larger number of mobile phones than televisions across the nation as a constructive thing which will help them in raking money. By 2020, global advertising spends on digital media is likely to grow to 36% a compared to 21% in 2010, according to a report in a leading daily.
Netflix Inc. which launched in India this year is aggressively adding to its Hindi language content, something on which a large part of the profit of these studios is banking. Home-grown competitors too are eyeing to forge partnerships with online streaming companies. They are trying to bring in new platforms, a new revenue stream for production firms that earn little from either cinemas or DVD sales.