Friday, January 19, 2007


Online video rental sites are sprouting up everywhere in India. Seventymm was the first out of the blocks and now it has been joined by another company, Madhouse. I recently learnt of another one, Catchflix. I’ve been a customer of Seventymm for the last 4 months now. Below is my impressions of the service

Website Design
Their site is fast and loads quickly and is designed well. I like the fact that a complete summary of the movie is shown when you move the mouse over the title, saving you a few mouseclicks.
Overall, the site is very professional looking and on par with the major sites. It definitely gives the impression that these are serious players and not any aira-gaira site.

Signup Process
They charged me a deposit (999) + a joining fee (around 500). With increased competition, they may do away with the joining fee. Even the deposit should be replaced by a credit card guarantee.

They have two plans, an unlimited one for 600 rupees a month and another for 200 rupees, where you can rent up to 4 movies. In both plans, you can have two movies with you at any time.

Movie Selection Process

If you know the movie you are looking for, it works well. But, if you want to browse their catalog, it is painful to use. I’m not sure if their language option works as a filter and where it is applicable. They’ve added a new additions link recently that atleast simplifies the process a little bit. A glaring omission is a powerful search tool that allows for search by criteria like movie, actor, language, genre, date ranges etc. Once you find a movie you like, you add it to your movie queue. They will deliver movies to you from your queue, depending on the priority in the queue and its availability. I’ve seen reports on the Net of services like Netflix that emply sophisticated algorithms to manage the queue and smoothen out the spikes in demand. I've not seen much evidence of that with Seventymm. That said, it is expected that newer releases are in much higher demand that the older ones, and if I have older and newer movies in the queue, I have got the older movie before the newer one.

Movie Quality
This is one of their USP’s and where it scores over the neighbourhood video libraries. They claim to only stock original prints.
The quality of the print has always been top notch. But, I’ve received a few discs (mainly English movies) that were meant for Malaysia/Thailand (i.e. Region 3 discs with a choice of Malay/Thai subtitles). Also, I’ve noticed that the DVD cover is not the original in some cases (without the artwork) and have holders for two discs when the movie was obviously shipped in only one disc. I’m not sure of the legality of these discs, whether these are original discs bought in SE Asia due to their non-availability in India or the pirated stuff from KL. These haven't occurred often, so I'll give them the benefit of doubt here.

Older movies may not be available on DVD, so you would have to settle for VCD.

Movie Choice
My interest is restricted to English, Hindi and Tamil. Here’s how I would rate the choice of movies offered

Old Hindi movies : very good, choice is extensive and even obscure movies are available
New Hindi movies : good, they get the discs around a month or two after release. This is for blockbusters, the lower budget movies are available sooner.
New English : bad, choice is very minimal
Old English : average
Tamil : below average

Delivery Method
I can request for a pickup/delivery very easily by SMS, web or phone. They have a delivery person who comes to the house for this. Delivery and pick up happen at the same time, unlike with services like Netflix where there is a postal delay. I would like a postal/drop off option as well, but its not very feasible in our country.

To sum up, I've been very satisfied with their service. I think they have a bright future, as Indian consumers are looking beyond cost nowadays and are ready to choose quality even if it is more expensive. While competition in this space is likely to increase with other companies also coming up, they would also need to wathc out for companies like Moser Baer, which plans to sell VCD/DVD at 28 and 34 rupees. If that takes off in a big way, it could totally kill their business model.

1 comment:

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