The market for paid online video download services like BigFlicks.com (owned byÂ Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group) is just not there.
At least, not anytime in the near future.
BigFlicks offers a wide selection of Bollywood and a small collection of regional language movies in its video download service (buy or rent)Â for a fee ranging from $4.99 to $19.99.
In the latest signal of the limited prospects for paid online video download services, Wal-Mart just pulled the plug on its video download service in the U.S.
Wal-Mart’s technology partner HP told CNET that the market for paid video downloads was not in line withÂ expectations.
In itsÂ Saturday (Dec.29)Â edition, the New York Times put it well:
Wal-Mart is the nationâ€™s largest seller of DVDs. Its quiet abdication of digital downloads at the height of the holiday shopping season, while a stark contrast to the ballyhooed announcement of the service, was consistent with the ho-hum reaction by many consumers to the downloadable movie concept.
Unlike India, which has a pathetic broadband Internet infrastructure at the household level, the U.S. has a fairly decent broadband service provided by cable operators like Comcast and telcos like Verizon.
Still, Wal-Mart couldn’t succeed with its service. There’s far too much competition from DVDs, theaters, NetFlix, Blockbuster and so forth.
Also, as LCD and Plasma TV screen-sizes get bigger and bigger, why would anyone want to watch a Pirates of the Caribbean or a Om Shanti Om on a small computer screen.
Sure, you can download a movie on a laptop and connect it to a big-screen TV but it’s a pain.
Although in theory the BigFlicks video download service is available anywhere in the world, the service is really targeted at desis in USA, UK, Canada, Middle East, South East Asia, Europe, and Australia.
When new Hindi, Tamil and Telugu movies are often released on the same day in U.S. theaters and pirated DVDs are available for $5Â at desi grocery stores in less than four or five days of a movie’s release, why would consumers be interested in downloading videos for a fee?
Sure, desis in the U.S. watch movies that they download off the net but only if it’s free. Ask them to pay for it and we bet there’ll be few takers.
After all, when it comes to cheap it’s hard to beat ourÂ desis.
In the U.S., Apple’s iTunes store and Amazon.com’s Unbox service still offer video download of movies but we wonder how long they’ll last.