Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Moser Baer DVDs

Smart idea that. Sell a movie DVD for 28 rupees? And its not for rent, you own the damn thing. Amazing value for money. This is a contrarian approach. Until now the movie marketing machine worked on pricing the DVD at as high a price as possible. Which seemed to make sense. Sell one DVD for the price of ten, sell fewer and make money.

And that is playing into the hands of the pirates - who rip off cheap DVDs and a whole market has spun off in DVD rentals. Despite the best efforts of all concerned, the piracy market has not gone down - despite them selling cheap shoddy prints, bad picture quality and lobbying and enforcement? Why? Simply because the audience out there wants to watch movies real bad. Not everybody can afford a 100 rupee multiplex ticket for every single movie. So, people get together, rent a DVD player (or buy - its really cheap, especially in the used market - and in the bottom part of the market) and watch movies whenever they get time by paying a 20 or 30 rupee rental. Spread the cost over a few people and it is really dirt cheap.

And now Moser Baer sells movies at 28 odd rupees. Great idea that. It is the idea that has the potential to kill piracy. At that price many years back, I barely got a music cassette, so I dont mind building a library. At this price, my take is that it is no longer profitable to be a pirate. Imagine that? The last time gold control laws were relaxed (and taking Indias example), gold smuggling went down. Cheaper than enforcement? Sure. Make the damn thing available - the days of shortages are went. The jury is still out on the technology and the quality, but in any case, it has to be way way better than what the pirates offer today.

(Update: These DVD's are very good. I picked up one today with a reminder to pick more up. They have a good library in quite a few languages apart from Hindi. Nice.)

The same thing now needs to be done for music too. Bollywood, get legal, allow legal torrent downloads for 10 bucks a song - and watch that market boom - atleast you will make some money as opposed to none today.


Anand said...

I wrote about this when Moser Baer first started their home-video operations. On the ground, it is fantastic to watch. Tamil cinema has always been a little touchy about piracy, but even within the industry, it was somehow never really discouraged. Maybe some even had worked around that 'business model'. Moser Baer is slowly changing that.

In fact, not long ago I was discussing the very thing with Rajjat Barjatya. (did you recently link to something he had said that got published?) Piracy is telling us that the audience wants something, not that it is impossible to sell. Piracy is also not a zero-overheads operations either.

In fact the movie piracy scene in Madras is fascinating subject for study. They have a long tail as well. Bergman and Kieslowski are proper mainstream for these guys.

I somehow feel that this is also a model that can export well. The writers strike might makes things bad with RIAA and the MPAA attempting clamping down futilely on online piracy as well.

Neelakantan said...

Rajat Barjatya = Vivaah? I read that they had made it available on the net for downloading and it got them a great response. I had linked to it from contentsutra some time back.

The movies "back catalog" and "long tail" surely exists and it is a market that is badly tapped. Between high prices on one end and piracy on other somewhere the industry seems to not discourage (if not actively encourage) them.

Also given the fact that in India movies are produced in so many languages, there is bound to be demand for movies at all corners of the country - and of course abroad.

Why doesnt Moser tie up with theatres to sell DVDs? They have the space for one.

Anand said...

Yep, the same guy! He's got some interesting ideas, and more importantly, he is aware of what's going on.

Film theatres in Tamil Nadu are very highly regulated by the government. They have some really ridiculous stipulations and conditions, right down to how many cars can park w.r.t. number of seats in the hall. TN chief ministers have always considered the film industry their backyard (MK more so) so they keep poking their fingers into it all the time.

I do not know how the situation is elsewhere. Karnataka has its own stupid no-dubbing policy, and they keep begging the state for subsidies.

In effect somebody has to necessarily game the system in order to innovate in business. We have enough 'clever' chaps to do that anyway!

Anonymous said...

Not just no dubbing, even shooting - the works. And it applies not just for movies, for tele serials too. Surprisingly, they havent banned non Kannada women from taking up roles!