The Video-on-Demand (VOD) space is flourishing with mobile penetration increasing and the rollout of 4G services by mobile service providers. Changing viewing habits of consumers to non-liner viewing has also contributed to the growth. Coming up in this space is a two-year old company CloudWalker Steaming Technologies (CloudWalker) whose ultimate aim is to provide a one stop shop for digital content distribution across multiple platforms (web, smart-phone, tablets and television) and be able to service viewers who are looking to consume content.
Jagdish Rajpurohit, Founder, CloudWalker Steaming Technologies is an indie filmmaker and actor who has been in the film industry for the last 20 years. “As a film maker, I was constantly looking out for a way to be able to distribute films in an efficient manner. Given the situation where the number of screens outstrip the supply and how we had become a “weekend” only market. It takes several years to make a film and only 72 hours to just make it extinct. It was painful to see how several films just go out of the radar once the weekend was done (if at all they ever got released),” he said.
CloudWalker offers curated content on its VOD platform Halfticket.tv and has a mobile app and a dongle device that allows users to stream the content from the VOD platform to the TV. The company also provides VOD and streaming solutions to MSOs and LCOs. This includes tying up with MSOs and LCOs to set up their own VOD services and offering them curated video content for those platforms.
Rajpurohit explains, “We have implemented our first arrangement with YOU Broadband wherein we provide curated content to their subscribers. At this moment we are in the process of finalising arrangement with atleast 4 more MSO/ LCO for our products wherein we provide complete end to end VOD model to them. The best part is that the solution for ad supported content is totally free and the MSO/ LCO do not have to invest anything in reach at this point.”
The company was incorporated on July 18, 2013, however it was only until a year ago that they started working on creating the VOD platform that they currently operate. Taking cue from the digital boom in the country, coupled by the lack of exhibition space for cinema and a growing hunger for video content, Rajpurohit with a group of friends with common interest in films and entertainment created CloudWalker with the following objectives. First, premium content should be easily discovered and audiences should get to see what they want to see, where there want to see and how they want to see.
Second, films should be able to reach their audience across the world without difficulty and specially without limitation of time and space. Third, premium content should be freely available to viewers before appearing on pirated content platforms with the help of technology. Lastly, whatever is freely available on the internet legally should be easily discoverable and made available on demand for free.
“We are working on Ad- Supported and Transaction supported models. We don’t think the subscription based model will work in India as people have a resistance to recurring charge for entertainment. We are also working on a specific model wherein we shall sell our STB and other hardware in the country,” said Rajpurohit. He further added, “I think that customers pay only when they want something really bad. If you try to lure the consumer into paying anything they don’t want, then the deal won’t ever happen. With TV subscriptions offered in India being one of the lowest on subscription model, there can be no better alternative in the subscription zone. But if you can bring “a la carte” approach where customers buy what they want and see free things for free, then consumers will surely be interested as we are now seeing.”
Rajpurohit sees a huge opportunity in this market with the way in which people are preferring to use digital platforms for everything such as e-commerce, flight bookings, railway bookings, taxi and bus bookings, net banking and even movie booking. This he said indicates that the audience is not ready to wait for things to arrive at the age old speeds and want everything instantly. “With a country having more than 80 crore phones and several crore tabs you don’t even need a calculator to understand the opportunity. India will be the biggest market in the world in digital space and I am glad we have arrived at the right time.”
He also highlights his VOD platform as a way to solve the film distribution problems and providing the film industry in India with alternative ways in showcasing their work. “India is the world’s biggest movie producer with 15 films each week coming out in 12 languages. This whole industry is starved of distribution and more in the area of good geographic spread. Imagine how a Marathi, Bengali, Tamil (or as a matter of fact any regional film) ends up in theatres only in the state where it is spoken, and the people who speak these languages and who want to see these films but who are out of these states cannot watch them. Such a large audience is being missed due to geographical limitations of the conventional distribution model. Similarly, Indians living outside India or even people from neighbouring countries cannot see our films due to the same problem,” says Rajpurohit. “We intend to bring a “flattened space” for distribution and provide a platform where your films can be seen by your audience at the same time all over the world and geographical limitations won’t really matter. Similarly, there is no “weekend” only market or a “gate keeper” to stop you from entering main stream distribution.”