Online movie rental service, Seventymm.com, which began its operations in early March this year in Bangalore, has chalked out ambitious plans for the next five years. The company’s viral marketing and other promotional efforts have helped get in the initial numbers. Seventymm.com is targeting revenues of Rs 500 crore and one million customers in the five years. The company is planning to expand to five Indian cities by March 2007.
Speaking to exchange4media in Bangalore, Raghav Kher, Founder, Seventymm, said, “The growth will clearly come through geographic expansion and product line expansion. In due course, we will be present in 50 satellite towns besides the major cities. In the first year, we will be present in five major cities, though we haven’t decided which city will be next. From renting, we will graduate to selling, though rentals would be the primary offering. And even as we expand the collection of films, we will look at spaces like games and edutainment.”
The company boasts of a collection of 10,000 movies, and the content is being upgraded continuously. By the second year of operations, the collection was epected to grow to 20,000-25,000 titles, Kher said. Seventymm is currently working on adding Bengali movies to its collection of Hindi, English, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam movies.
The online pay model hasn’t been a hiccup in garnering a customer base of over 3,000 in the first month of operations, as the company supplements the online pay model with other modes, including cheque payments on delivery. With a promotional referral campaign adding impetus to the on-ground activities, the numbers had flowed consistently, explained Subhanker Sarker, COO.
The target in terms of customer acquisitions is set at 10,000 to 20,000 per city within 12 months of launch, and the variance is explained by the profile of the city. The learning from Bangalore includes: DVDs are more popular than VCDs.
“More people want to watch DVDs than VCDs. Our hypothesis was that people would want to watch more of VCDs. We had underestimated the shift from VCD to DVD players in the market. Once we realised this, we introduced a DVD search intro on the site, and expanded the DVD selection too,” added Sarker.
The unique aspect, besides the mode of booking, is that there is no cap on the time for which the movie can be retained. Two simple plans allow for either four movies a month or an unlimited number of movies to be rented. If the customer likes the movie and wants to retain the same, he or she can do so, at a cost.
As Seventymm explores new markets, the need for a robust backend might see them going in for a franchisee model. In an attempt to keep the site simple and easy-to-access, ads have been avoided for now, but are not being ruled out in future.
“There are a lot of synergistic possibilities as we grow. There will be co-marketing opportunities that are created along the way, and association with partners who would want to sell to out customer base will be explored. Watch a movie, eat a pizza, gift a movie with a card – these are all possibilities. What we will have is a community, and a database, which tells us what a customer’s choice of movies are,” explained Kher.
The priority right now is achieving steady growth. A tie-up with Café Coffee Day outlets in Bangalore adds to the quiz contest on SMS (and online), and the viral (reference) promos in Bangalore is another driver. Online movie rentals seem to be the latest comfort station in life for movie lovers, before VOD finally comes in. And that, according to Kher, is still a long way off.