Cinedigm India division is set to “develop streaming services” for the Indian and South Asian markets, says Gary Loffredo, chief operating officer at Cinedigm. The independent streaming entertainment company in early March announced the creation of its India division, with Cinedigm highlighting that its team will “begin development and planning for a new, branded global ‘umbrella’ service.” In its release, Cinedigm said that its new “umbrella service” will “showcase” the company “portfolio of more than 20 branded streaming channels and tens of thousands of hours of video content.”
Around 1000 Movie Screens Closed During Pandemic: PwC
Besides creating a streaming services platform for the Indian market, Loffredo in the earnings call on Wednesday said that the Cinedigm India division will also be “powering Cinedigm’s global portfolio of streaming services.”
Cinedigm is said to have a portfolio of over 50,000 movies and TV shows with its content said to be available across 650 partners including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and iTunes. The streaming channels operated by Cinedigm includes Dove Channel, a family-centric streaming platform and Fandor, a global independent film subscription streaming service hosting independent films, documentaries and international features. It has to be noted that Cinedigm acquired Fandor in January 2021.
“We are really excited about Fandor, which we acquired in January of this year,” Erik Opeka, chief strategy officer at Cinedigm Networks, said in the earnings call on Wednesday. “We think as with WarnerMedia having shut down FilmStruck a few years ago, we really think that that space is underserved and globally could be quite a substantial audience.”
Opeka said that the company is currently analyzing how Fandor would be received in South Asian and Latin American countries.
“We think a premium blue-chip global cinema streaming service could have very significant potential if we were to enter into telco distribution deals and other deals in territories like India and Malaysia and others,” Opeka said. "So we think that provides just a really significant growth opportunity."
In a report, Edelweiss Research said that the over-the-top (OTT) streaming services have “definitely received a push” in India “due to the pandemic.”
Similar sentiments were also shared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in early July, with the firm highlighting that the streaming video-on-demand revenues will grow at a 10.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2025. The firm said that a “top priority” for the streaming players is global expansion.
PwC highlighted in its report that around 1000 of 8000 movie screens in India “closed” during the pandemic. Crucially, the firm also said that such “pandemic related theatre closures and lockdowns have been a revenue shift from the box office towards streaming platforms.”
Amazon, Disney, Netflix Competition at an “All-Time High”
PwC highlighted that the American streaming giant Netflix in April, acquired Dhamaka, a Bollywood movie starring Kartik Aaryan for Rs 135 crores. Dhamaka is scheduled to release on Netflix “this summer” and was the “highest price paid to date for an Indian feature film by an OTT platform.”
“The intensity of the competition among the big players' Amazon, Discovery, Disney, Netflix is at an all-time high,” PwC said in its report.
Further, the firm said that the streaming platforms acquiring live sporting events rights is a “proven way to get scale in content.” PwC also said that major sporting events like Super Bowl and FIFA World Cup “retain their power to draw massive real-time audiences.”
Disney+ Hotstar, the over-the-top (OTT) streaming platform run by Walt Disney holds the broadcast rights for the domestic and international cricket matches held in India till 2023. Additionally, the platform also holds the broadcast rights for Cricket South Africa till 2024 and holds the rights for the International Cricket Council (ICC) events.
“For the major streaming players, global expansion remains a top priority,” PwC said in its report. “Almost two-thirds of Netflix subscribers are outside the US and China. In India, Disney+ is generating a major boost to its subscriber base through its ownership of Hotstar.”
However, PwC said that the industry “may be moving into a new phase of streaming growth” with more focus on enhancing the user experience. The firm said that the “new phase” may also put “more intent on retaining and creating value from the immense subscriber bases that have materialised.”
“The stacking of multiple OTT services has triggered much debate in the industry over the maximum number of subscriptions that a consumer may be willing to take on,” PwC said. “But there is likely a limit to the number of streaming subscriptions a household is willing to buy and people can cancel their OTT services with relative ease.”