India’s oldest video rental company is not competing with Netflix — instead it has one-upped YouTube with new releases on demand

India’s oldest video rental company is not competing with Netflix — instead it has one-upped YouTube with new releases on demand
  • Shemaroo, which began India’s first video rental business in 1979, has now launched its own transactional video on demand (TVOD) platform called ShemarooMe Box Office.
  • This feature acts as a virtual box office or theatre where films can first release and the audience can watch it after buying a ticket for it.
  • Gada believes this is just a chance for movies to get their box office collections before eventually going on to be available through platforms like TV or OTT.
Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar have all deemed India as the next big market for them, but most Indian masses might not be able to afford their subscription plans. These platforms then went for India-first cheap plans starting at ₹129, as well as mobile-only plans to woo the mass audience. But India’s oldest video rental platform, the 57-year old Shemaroo, has steered clear of competing with Reed Hastings or Jeff Bezos. Instead, it has taken a leaf out of the YouTube playbook.

ShemarooMe Box Office, a transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) platform — simply put, an app where you can watch a newly-released movie on your mobile or TV at home and pay just for that— was launched in July 2020. This is a feature YouTube has had for a while but only for old movies, not for new releases. “What we are doing is the first transaction window for the film. Our idea is to help the monetization effort of the producers as well,” Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo told Business Insider.

India’s oldest video rental company is not competing with Netflix — instead it has one-upped YouTube with new releases on demand
Mr. Hiren Gada, CEO - Shemaroo EntShemaroo

“The whole idea has a platform approach. Consumers can buy tickets from BookMyShow for ₹100 and watch a newly released film,” he added. Shemaroo has already released smaller films like Sharman Joshi’s Graham Staines, Ek Ankahi Sachai: The Least of These, the horror flick X Zone, The Hidden Strike, among others.

This may bring a ray of hope for movie producers as they get an additional platform. Unlike Netflix, Shemaroo’s idea was born out of necessity after theatres have remained shut for over six months. The product was developed in 10 weeks, Gada shared.

As people could stay away from theatres for a long time, no more ₹300 crore blockbusters are breaking the box office, and instead, films are making their way onto OTT platforms.

Not only that, it will also break the iron grip of monopolistic distributors who have decided the fate of many movies with arbitrary decisions on the number of screens they would get. Even the reported revenue from every theatre has been less than transparent for years.

While Gada believes that people will definitely go back to theatres as it's more of a recreational activity, he added that with an option like ShemarooMe Box Office, a lot of the much dreaded ‘scheduling challenges’ can be solved. Gada explains that their latest product will also offer regional movies to get a bigger audience.

“There are so many films that die because another A-lister’s movie is releasing, these films have a very short window to rake in as many collections as they can. With the ShemarooMe Box Office, they can get a second chance. So, even once the theatrical journey is done, the film can still reach a wider audience,” he said.

Gada believes that even as theatres reopen, this won’t reduce the dependence on an opening weekend collection; instead, it will help producers to extend their collections beyond show timings and limited capacities of theatres.

“There is a large consumer base which looks out for the latest movie release and was missing the theatre experience. For producers too, theatre is the starting point of the film’s journey and box office defines the film’s success. So we put both their needs together,” said Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo.

Through the app, filmmakers will now also know how many people paid to watch a new release. The company is in talks with producers, and Gada hopes they will lap up the idea.


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