The past month saw a pivotal moment in the US when Netflix overtook Comcast in subscriber numbers. The news was followed by a Nielsen report that sales for television sets dropped in the States. The reason for the drop in television set sales and increase in subscribers for an on-demand streaming site is that television shows in the US are readily offered on services like Hulu, Netflix and even on the television networks' websites. In India however, limited episodes of a few TV shows are streamed online legally. Movie production houses and distributors on the other hand are slowly opting to make full length feature films available on the Internet and their choice for distribution seems to be YouTube.
Shemaroo Entertainment, a movie distributor started hosting full length movies on YouTube this week, their catalog includes some box office successes and quite a few old ones. Back in January, 2010 box office hit Dabangg was made available on YouTube with regional restrictions that blocks viewers outside the US from streaming the movie. BIGFlix, the Netflix alternative in India from Reliance BIG Entertainment has DVD rentals and online streaming options but the limited catalog does not make it an exciting service. Reliance BIG Entertainment interestingly has the same movies on their YouTube channel as well. On its part, YouTube has a section on their website for Indian cinema.
MediNama was able to get specifics on the cost for streaming a movie online which ranges from $1 to $2 per view with profits being questionable given the investments, ad revenues and scaling the service. This makes setting up one's own online streaming service unviable and explains why YouTube is being chosen since it is Google's infrastructure and they manage the scaling. It is not just movies that Google India has going in their favor, India's cricketing body the BCCI chose YouTube to stream the Indian Premier League in most countries excluding the US.