Seventymm, India’s Netflix?

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This could be pretty big in movie-mad India. By the end of next year, India’s Seventymm, an online movie rental and delivery service like Netflix, could become the country’s first national DVD rental company—online or brick-and-mortar. That’s right, folks, we’re skipping Blockbuster and getting our own Netflix.

Seventymm is already up and running in Bangalore and Delhi. And thanks to a $7 million infusion from venture firm Matrix Partners India, announced earlier this week, it will start in Mumbai by the end of this year, in Kolkata and Hyderabad by the first quarter of 2007, and in second-tier cities, of the size of Kanpur and Chandigarh, by the end of 2007.

Also by the end of this year, Seventymm plans to extend service so customers can order movies by sending messages through their mobile phones and not just on the Internet, which could connect them to a wider customer base. (They are still tinkering with how best to do this.) Because the words reliable and Indian Postal Service do not belong in the same sentence, Seventymm and its smaller competitors have Indianised the Netflix model and use couriers to deliver movies.

To be sure, Seventymm has some way to go. The conditions in India, where hundreds of DVD/VCD vendors deliver and consumers like to watch pirated copies of films while they’re still in theaters, may make the NetFlix model more difficult to sell. And there are some problems with the Web site’s user interface, such as a weak search engine and a design that forces you to click through a lot of pages as you select movies — a painful process if your connection is slow.

But there are good reasons to believe consumers will bite. A majority of the pirated prints provided by local shops have audio or picture problems, which is annoying even though you don’t wind up paying for the rental. Perhaps more importantly, most local shops have a selection that’s limited to current films in Hindi and/or the dominant local language and a few English blockbusters. So, for me at least, its goodbye to my DVDwallah who is always offering to send me “solid action adventure” movies starring Jean Claude Van Damme or “bahut (very) funny comedies,” of the ilk of ‘Dumb and Dumberer.’ This guy also never seems to have older movies at hand (they are always in some mythical godown). Ta Ta also to bad prints and late fees.

Seventymm hopes to have a million customers and revenue of $100 million by 2011. Matrix Partners India’s Rishi Navani (now on the Seventymm board) says he expects each center (centers being cities) to be cash-flow breakeven 18 months from the time it begins operations.

And Seventymm is making some progress. In Net-savvy Bangalore, it has attracted 7500 customers in six months. India has 18 million Internet users according to ComScore Networks, while the Internet and Mobile Association of India says the country has 37 million users (including usage in offices and cyber cafes). By 2010, as many as 50 million households, up from around 12 million currently, are expected to have DVD players. (Many more households have VCD players.) That’s the opportunity first spotted by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, which provided Seventymm the initial investment of $2 million last November, and now Matrix Partners India. “We looked at all the players out there in this business and we picked Raghav Kher’s and his team’s because we have complete confidence in it,” Rishi Navani told gigaom. Matrix Partners India has likely taken a 20-30 percent stake in Seventymm.

Founded by Microsoft alum Raghav Kher (who in the past has co-founded imandi.com and Rendition Networks), Seventymm isn’t the first or only such service of its kind in India—ClixFlix in Mumbai is likely the oldest and there are others like Catchflix and Fridayboxoffice in Bangalore and HomeView in Delhi. But already it’s the biggest and arguably more popular than its competitors in Delhi and Bangalore. It has a library of 10,000 movies in English and Hindi, but also in seven other Indian languages and that really sets it apart from its competitors. Most of the world knows only about Hindi-language Bollywood films but there’s loads of (and often much better) movies made in other Indian languages. It also seems to be the best deal money-wise for consumers. (Uzanto’s Amit Ranjan has listed the schemes offered by the various players on his Webyantra blog)

Kher stresses that he is in the entertainment distribution business and so in three to five years’ time by when (hopefully) there will be a lot more broadband connections, Seventymm will move to digital delivery across platforms. (Just like Netflix says.) “Our long-term vision is any movie, any time, anywhere,” Kher told gigaom. “Then no more delivery boys. But right now broadband penetration is too low and we don’t see it as being viable.” He’s right about that.

The lessons Kher learned from the failure of imandi.com (an online auction site that matched consumers with painters, plumbers and other service providers) have helped make Seventymm a cut above the rest. Kher says. “When we started imandi we didn’t ask merchants how much will you pay for this service? We should have.” Now, Kher says, he reads every customer email to the company.

When I told him I signed up a few days ago and had my first two DVDs delivered promptly he was noncommittal. But when I said the site could use lots of improvements, he was positively ecstatic (“That’s what I’m looking for!”) and urged me to email him a list of suggestions right away. I did.

34 Comments

Seventymmâ„¢

Seventymm™ is a one stop hangout for movies. At Seventymm™, we believe and swear by the term ‘Filmy’ and we have tried to live up to its true spirit.

Seventymmâ„¢ is designed for people like you – the hard core movie buffs, enthusiasts and even those who claim that they don’t have a filmy bone in their body. Don’t miss our special attempts to focus on regional and bollywood movies!

There are various reasons for you to hangout at Seventymm™ – Besides becoming a member of India’s largest movie rental service and renting good quality movies from Seventymm™, you can just sign in and indulge by taking the quiz or creating one, rating movies, starting a club, testing your movie compatibility with your friends or simply read more about the movies and review them. Now, enjoy movies and a lot more… at your finger tips!

Seventymmâ„¢ Hangout is your space, you can decide on who to let in and who not to, what to put up there and what not to. You are the leading person in your hangout, so get set – wear the Director’s cap!

nemo

Seventymm HORRIBLE SERVICE! One can wait for the delivery boy, and keep waiting, or call the service helpline and get a reply that movies have been dispatched. Half a day later, these guys just seem to say “Sorry sir, system failure” and thus the DVD was not dispatched to you.

I’m sure they can do a lot in terms of investment in SYSTEMS that work in case they want to be the leading online rental service.

Prashant

Hi readers,
Pls. dont get disguised by this fraud article. I subscribed to these shit people and got into troubles in life. I paid them joining fee and one month advance fee totalling Rs.1200. I queued up few movies but recd. none until 3 weeks. So i called and they said they will send them. after 2 months i got fed up with these fake promises and so i tried to cancel my membership. I never got any movie from these scoundrals in 2 months and later they agreed to refund only 1000 bucks and not 1200. I thought let me get rid of these and loose 200 but its been 6 weeks and i have not recd. my money back even after calling them almost daily since last 2 weeks. On the top of it i get mails from them saying my payment is due so i know what now these cunning people have planned is to keep me continued like this for another few months and then settle my account by paying nothing.
Best of luck to all thinking to subscribe.

Prashant Agarwal

badal jain

seventymm has very poor delivery system.they take more than five days to deliver and pickup the movies despite of repeated requests.they are bound to fail if they do not improve their delivery system.my id with them is 36524. i just wish they look at this and improve…

ram

Seventymm has the worst customer service. Their model of delivery by people is flawed as they have their own ideas on when to deliver

Also, it seems to be run by people who have no interest in movies and just want to make money as their collection is neither good nor do they send the proper movies at time

Finally, i’m very interested to know if they actually pay royalties to the studios. I get the impression that they buy DVDs from the store and rent them out (which is illegal)

kishan

well, i just checked out clixflix…it looks much better than seventymm…Frankly speaking seventymm collection is nt great…but clix flix the television series list itsself is far greater than seventymmm…Sigh i wish it was in Bangalore

Satish

I live in Mumbai. I am a member of http://www.clixflix.com. The service is awesome. To start with, the team seems fun and clued into the whole experience of cinema….. They take great pain in making recommendations, answering queries & accomodating reservations.

My membership was taken through one of the stores but I can use my membership at any of their other stores, transact online throught their site, call over the phone and order as well as check sms an order.

The Clixflix.com site has this cool web 2.o feel. They have this “community” like thing if you sign in where you can share your reviews, queues and ratings of movies with friends.

I was able to look beyond just cast names and research by writer, producer and director as well.

Rahul

When will India step out of the dark ages and relinquish the VCD medium? A lot of films which deserve a DVD transfer have yet to be immortalized because the whole damn country insists on making crappy VCDs a legitimate source for entertainment, while the rest of the world will soon be embracing HD-disc media. Baah!

Nilesh

hi, this is nilesh member of seventymm. i found here lots of options to search my favourite actors’ and movies easily. its good to get dvd and vcd to home without going to theatre and spending lots of money.

venkatesh

Seventymm is the India’s netflix, with in the end of 2007 its going to be famous word, because what seventymm having the schemes of real deal offer, member-get-member scheme, free shippings and no late fees are facitlity are giving by the seventymm. really happy with this Indian Netflix Seventymm.

Anshuman

I opened an account with Seventymm.com. their service is really bad. There were delays in delivery and the call centre were not at all helpful. Their website is often down. Over one of the long weekends, their shop was closed!! Most of the public would like to utilize the long weekends to see movies. They did not even send a confirmation (email or by post) when i closed the account. They have not returned the 999 that they asked to deposit, and they have also not collected the DVDs back. Finally, I landed up paying thousand bucks for two DVDs, which (even new original ones) would have costed 4-500.

I sincerely hope, their management sees this, and works on it to improve the service.

Rajesh

It definitely is not India’s NetFlix. Its “Netflix in India”. It seems to have more English movies than Indian (Indian does not mean just Hindi).

Murthy

Ray, India produces more than 2000 movies a year..If 10 movies and 10 films stars are funded by Mafia..it does not mean the whole filmdom is run by Mafia.

Ray Lopez

Just curious–is India cinema still run by the mafia?

That was what I read years ago. And as evidenced by the ‘bomb plot’ implicating various Mumbai film star(s). Money changing hands under the table. What a corrupt society. But remember the proverb: “Necessity becomes virtue”. After a while, just like in Russia, these biznez men will become pillars of the community if enough people uses their services.

What these developing countries need is a good depression and economic collapse, just to sweep the street of the stench.

Anil

I am not sure how this could succeed. I was recently in India and I can now get 3 movies in 1 for Rs. 50 (pirated of course) on the streets. The math doesnt add up unless these companies take a crack at piracy issues first.

Murthy

Can win..

  • Local CD/DVD walla’s will not have the huge collection 70mm can promise. A good collection can make a huge difference.

  • Maybe in long run joining/revenue sharing with local CD/DVD walla’s can make the delivery more efficient., especially incase of local language movies

  • There is untapped customer for latest video/play station/Xbox games.

Udit

What is of prime importance here is the competition seventymm and the others will face from the local cd/dvd walla’s scattered across all cities. These local dvd rental shops have home delivery and pick up, stock pirated cd’s which come out much much faster than the legit ones that these sites would circulate.

Satish

I have used thier service but it sucks because there is too much of delay in service and it takes allmost 2 to 3 days to get you dvds so i closed the account with them.

jok

this is joke…how on the earth investors in USA think they can start copy cat companies and make tons of money going public!!

india is completely different kind of market place, better put this money in any indian bank you will make more money than this venture returns!!

i feel sorry for the investors who bought into india hype thing and investing on every copy cat businesses in india

Kovilmudi

I used Seventymm. For the first few weeks they delivered movies reasonably fast and then the problems started. The movies delivered were either old or arrived during unexpected hours. I also incurred damage charges for what were originally scratched dvds. I talked to the founder – rude “I am US fella” but could not get deposit back. Hope the VCs had done their checks before investing in this.

Muralikrishnan

It is not just these Netflix-clones, but potentially even the Video on Demand / IPTV folks that may not make the cut because none of them can match the convinience of calling the neighborhood DVD rental store and getting your stuff delivered right to your doorstep(atleast I can speak for Mumbai). And what’s more, these folks also come and pick the DVD up on the next day

Beat that !

Ashutosh

Why did Netflix gain popularity in US? My guess is Netflix charging $9.99 per month was a good deal against Blockbuster charging $4.32 per movie rental. If you want to buy DVDs, you need to spend anywhere from $9.99 to $29.99 for 1 movie. Then large number of American households have a broadband connection and browsing/making their wish list on Netflix is easy. Americans busy lifestyle and lack of servants at home means they have lesser time to drive few miles to Blockbuster to pick up and drop DVDs.

In India, the rental guy just like the grocery wala or even magazine wala (in Delhi at least where you pay Rs.50 and a guy brings several magazines to your house and you keep 3 at a time) will deliver VCDs to your house. You can buy VCDs for Rs.100-150. Most of internet connections don’t work and its only younger generation or techies who seem to be comfortable. Indians have plenty of help available to return VCDs/DVDs.

I agree that these “me too” services don’t necessarily need to be copied from US to India. Startups need to generate more localized, relevant, and original ideas.

Raaj Vakil

What about this concept? It has a better chance of suceeding because it emphasises 24/7 sale/rent, movies at your doorstep (it could be in your building’s lobby) PLUS you can preview the movie before you rent it and FINALLY it has online bookings via a live connection to the machine. Either way, anything is worth trying out in India but I think you should start small and then grow. Major launches or lofty business plans can fail altogether if you don’t adjust to the market conditions. What say?

MyAarzoo

It won’t be easy for seventymm to grow in dvd rental market due to competition with small rental places that can be found everywhere.

Roop

Their rentals and sign up are VERY EXPENSIVE. We can buy original telugu VCDs and telugu DVDs for just 40 Rs and 99 Rs in bangalore at stores like planet M. Who will pay them 500 Rs rent per month!!!

seventymm seems to be looking at english langauge audience mainly, but over here hindi, telugu, tamil, kannada have more demand.

Startups.in/India

70mm, clixflix.com, catchflix.com, homeview.in …I’ll be happy to see these ventures succeed but the ground reality is it is going to difficult, infact extremely difficult. When people can rent a quality DVD (now don’t ask me if it is pirated, the quality is good and that is what matters) in the store around the corner that costs them far less, why wait for a movie to arrive by mail/courier; speaking of which it is also a nighmare to setup a smooth distribution process.

These days there literally are video rental stores at every street corner across the nation. What percentage would really bother about switching paths? Importantly, are these video store owners going to sit quiet without devising better options?

Flko

How many people is going to pay 549/- for unlimited dvd/vcd per month in India???

Anonymous

All these “me too” services, copying american business models will fall flat in India. Look at the cost, only 4 movies per month at rs.200 and rs.500 for signing up ? Most of the DVD renters are two block away from an high rise apartment and charge 1/3rd. on can walk down and pick up the dvd …its not like you have to drive 5 miles to reach a blockbuster. Feel sorry for the investors who are mislead by these “usage figures” without know the ground realities.

anjan bacchu

hi there,

“Would be interesting to see how they deal with the Piracy issue on the rented DVDs.”

well, as long as they are distributing legal DVDs, they should NOT care if someone is copying from those DVDs — atleast, they should NOT be held responsible for that.

Not sure if they can detect who made the copy( I could think of a scheme where they send Rewritable DVDs — each client will get a small change version) so that if the market is inundated with pirated copies of the DVDs, they know who to point the finger at!), though?

BR,
~A

No One

Will they rent legit DVDs or the crap VCDs that pass for DVDs in most of India? Would be interesting to see how they deal with the Piracy issue on the rented DVDs.

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