Those days are gone when music and movie businesses were simple. You make a movie, release it in cinema halls, sell tickets and take money in your pocket. Today, things are different. People remain glued to their laptops and smart phones and the number of people buying tickets and DVDs is in decline.
In Bangladesh music industry has been going through tough time for many years. Musicians seldom make money by selling albums. They do concerts and take on corporate jobs and other things for a living. Lack of proper intellectual property protection is one of many reasons. But inability to come up with new model for solving this problem is at the core of this problem. Dugdugi-an online music distribution startup, was about to get into this space but it died premature.
After Dugdugi we have not heard about any new startup in this space but this is a pretty potential space to get into. With 160 million populations, Bangladesh is ripe for almost any business but there is a right time for everything.
With growing popularity and positive earnings reports of Netflix and Spotify, online streaming is hot thing now. To make the space a little scarier big players like Apple, Amazon and Google are joining in the scene as well. The wind is also blowing at full swing in Dhaka. People are jumping into the space. So far, we have at least three startups in this space: Popcorn Live TV, 3rdBell and Bongo. All these startups are trying to become the Netflix of Bangladesh.
Business model for online streaming business is simple: freemium and advertisement. Advertisements will be shown with free streaming videos and for watching exclusive contents you will have to subscribe for a paid membership. Many of these sites are also bringing in their own productions like: drama, short films and more.
Online streaming as an idea sounds exciting but in reality it is still a far-fetched idea for Bangladesh market. If you look at TV viewership majority people watch either Hindi channels or English films. Furthermore, bangla dramas are available on YouTube in hundreds, why would one essentially go for a streaming service and subscribe for one? Furthermore, intellectual property right will remain a pain in the ass.
Streaming is the future but it surely is not the present. It is not unknown that smart phone penetration rate in Bangladesh has been expanding exponentially. The price of smart phone is also dropping rapidly supporting a fast growth. In the last quarter of 2014, smart phones market saw an increase of over 83% year-on-year growth. Growing rate of smart phone penetration coupled with 3G access will increase number of people watching things online.
However, the question remains, will this growing population essentially be watching online streaming given the fact that YouTube hosts almost all Bangladeshi dramas and movies and most importantly, market size for bangla cinema is not big enough to build a big business. Being said that, may be this is not the time to call off online streaming, we will have wait to see the future.
What makes a startup valuable is its future growth potential. Given the population size, smartphone and internet penetration streaming has a future in Bangladesh but the question remains: how close are we to that future?
Image by Bangladesh Startup Cup