Broadband: India’s new multiplex

India is on the verge of finding a new multiplex. Unlike the traditional multiplexes, this will be a multiplex at the closest available screen. Distributors of the new multiplex are not PVR, Big Cinemas or Fame but Yahoo, Google, Airtel and Reliance.

YouTube was the pioneer in making broadband India’s new multiplex. It has a dedicated channel called boxoffice where it streams one full movie per month. One can watch the movie in the comfort of the home without the hassles of getting a ticket and commuting to and from the movie theater.

Not to to be outdone by Google, Yahoo has launched its movie streaming service. Airtel has partnered with BigFlix to bring movies on-demand to Airtel’s broadband subscribers. Airtel’s on-demand movies is subscription based, though it is very economically priced which even competes or is better than buying a pirated DVD’s from the street hawker.

Star India has recently announced its launch of Cloud TV service in India and will put all its content on the cloud. This means more content to consume from as many devices.  A computer monitor can double up as a screen but a TV experience is much better. There are efforts to launch smart TV’s which can connect to the Internet by Samsung and LG. These smart TV’s are expensive and there are gadgets which can turn any TV into a smart TV.

Of course, the experience of watching a movie in a theater is completely different from watching it on a smaller screen. As the screens get bigger and better, watching a movie on a Broadband is no longer an ersatz of the multiplex experience.

Looking at the stock, we have everything in place – content, distribution and devices. The one element we haven’t touched up yet is the connectivity. When more and more content producers move to cloud, there will be an obvious surge of people consuming from the same cloud. This is additional pressure on India’s creaking Broadband infrastructure. Whether we like it or not, Broadband has moved to the center of the table. If there is a time to increase Broadband connectivity and penetration then it is now.