Digitized content and Internet growth pave the way for a Netflix in India

Tata Sky is offering Internet based streaming to set top boxes and Yahoo India introduced MoviePlex—an online catalog of several Indian movies followed by YouTube introducing ad-supported movies.

In India, for smooth streaming of video, bandwidth requirement and digitized content are two separate challenges. Bandwidth caps limiting users to stream video presents the last mile problem.

India does not have a Netflix but several services have movie catalogs for online streaming. YouTube is the popular choice with production houses and distributors having their own channels. While this content is region locked, YouTube allows international users to rent movies at $2 or $3. Their catalog, however, is laughable. In addition to the Indian cinema section, YouTube has introduced BoxOffice. Ad-supported versions of blockbuster movies will be available for streaming. Speaking at the All Things D conference, Netflix CEO Reid Hastings mentioned India on their expansion roadmap.

In June, leading ISP Bharti Airtel tied up with Reliance BigFlix to offer 500 movies, 100 music videos, 100 trailers and 100 TV shows at an affordable price of Rs. 229 (~$4). Medianama found out, the 500 movies available will be selected from Bigflix’s free streaming catalog. Two months later, Yahoo India launched MoviePlex. A new entrant in the movie streaming business, Yahoo MoviePlex has popular Hindi Cinema titles available for free.

While MoviePlex and YouTube are competitors neither have subscription based offerings as yet.

Jumping on the distribution over Internet bandwagon is DTH provider Tata Sky. They will allow users to stream content to their television sets through the set-top boxes connected over Ethernet cable. Talking about the implementation, Tata Sky CMO, Vikram Mehra said, “The Tata Sky+ HD set-top box has already got USB and Ethernet ports. Users can connect to the Internet using the Ethernet port. For every port we add on the set-top box, our costs go up. We already give our subscribers a hefty subsidy on set-top boxes. We have to make these investments bring back some money to us.”

DTH providers, ISPs, online video services are making their moves but perhaps a more interesting one is from cable television network-Star. According plans shared by the organization, Star is working on a digital ecosystem to provide content shot in HD, broadcast over the cloud and available on several devices.

Recently, file hosting websites were blocked to prevent piracy after movie production house Reliance obtained a court order. Back in April, popular website TorrentFreak concluded that rise in Netflix subscribers is reducing movie piracy in the US. Similarly in India, offering affordable and easy access to content can reduce piracy.