Airtel a few days ago announced the launch of ‘Airtel Movies‘ – an online video on demand service in collaboration with BigFlix.
The service will cost Rs. 229 per month and would be available only to Airtel broadband subscribers in the form of a monthly add-on. Their catalog boasts of more than 500 movies and 100 television shows which the subsciber can access anytime, anywhere just with access to an internet connection and a flash enabled device (iPads not included). No online payment is involved since Airtel would add the Rs. 229 to the subscriber’s monthly bill. It seems that Airtel has also exempted all the data usage linked to Airtel movies from the users bandwidth consumption.
In the past Airtel broadband had offered their users free speed upgrades for viewing IPL on youtube, i.e for viewing videos on youtube.com/ipl the users would get a speed of 2 mbps. On other sites, their speed would be governed by their existing plans.
If Airtel uses the same strategy for ‘airtel movies’ as well it will surely become a buffering-free experience, which in India is the key point for any video service to succeed. Airtel has the resources to offer preferential bandwidth upgrades to certain sites on broadband as well as 3G. Imagine watching stuff on your TV, you never wait for videos to buffer on it, the online video experience should as seamless as the TV experience.
Airtel has nailed the pricing, if it manages to offer a good user experience with no buffering and quality issues then this can be a model for all future online video services to succeed.
Bigflix has indicated that in the future it will partner with other service providers as well to offer similar Video on Demand services. It’s ironic that BigFlix a reliance (ADAG) company chose to partner with Airtel, a competitor to Reliance communications. It seems only obvious that this service will be coming to Reliance subscribers next.