Baby steps for VOD in Romania

March 2, 2010 at 12:16 pm (Movies)

Years after their emergence in civilized countries, VOD online services are slowly starting to show up on the Romanian market as well. The end of last year marked the birth of 3 such services. All of them still claim to be in the beta stages, so changes (hopefully improvements) might pop up over the next few weeks.

Here they are (in my order of preference):

1. www.muvix.ro

Although far from perfect, this one climbed to the top mainly because of two things: its quality movies (their selection includes Pan’s Labyrinth, The Wrestler, The Machinist, The Host, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, There Will Be Blood, Up, and many more) and the high frame rate of the streams. Their site is clean, the search options are numerous and work great, the payment system is easy. However, the new releases tend to be a bit pricey (3.50 EUR), but the older films orbit around 1.19 EUR, which is a great price.

2. www.mediadirect.ro

This service seemed the most promising at first, offering even lower prices than muvix (0.77 – 1 EUR for older films, 2.50 – 3 EUR for new releases), but they seem to have certain issues, considering there haven’t been any updates in the last few weeks. Initially, the site promised weekly updates with all new DVD releases from major studios. That hasn’t happened – hopefully because of the Beta tag. Their second big problem is the low frame rate of the streams, especially during intense action sequences.

3. www.filmbox.ro

The only one of these 3 services that offers downloadable movies (and not only streams). However, their prices are ridiculous: 20 RON for a 3-day rental of new releases. That is absurd. Also – their site hasn’t been updated in quite some time.

I have always considered, despite common belief, that there is a market in Romania for such sites, despite the country’s high piracy rate. It is however absolutely necessary for these services to understand the realities and to be smart enough in terms of marketing to attract potential customers. Throwing a bunch of movies every couple of months and asking a theater admission price to download a rental will not do the trick.

In my opinion, the site that will survive and succeed will have to start with two vital things:

1 – regular updates with new releases.
Random updates with old movies will never work. There has to be a regular weekly update with the newest DVD releases in order for customers to keep returning to the site.

2 – lower prices.
Let’s take USA for example. iTunes, Amazon, and every single VOD service in America, charges 4 USD for a brand-new release rental. A theater admission price (in the multiplex) is ~12 USD. That means a rental represents a third of a theater ticket. In Romania, charging 20 RON or even 3.5 EUR (14 RON) for a rental is HUGE. A normal theater ticket is 18-24 RON, so a rental should never be more than 8 RON. No sane person will pay 20 RON to rent a movie, when they know that’s exactly how much they pay to go to the theater. Maybe even less.

Also – all sorts of promotions and weekly special offers are also vital – and, again, http://www.muvix.ro seems a bit ahead of the competition: they are offering (for a limited time only) Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona as a free rental.

Go check it out, and check the others out as well. I’ll be keeping an eye on the proceedings and I’ll update the blog with any new major developments.

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