Television

Sony Music to enter home video business with SDHE

MUMBAI: Due to the recession in the industry, music companies are looking at expanding their operations with an eye on garnering more revenues. Sony Music, which claims to be one the largest international companies in the music market, has taken the first step in this direction.

Sony Music has now made a high profile entry into the growing Indian home video business. According to a press release, a full-fledged new division called Sony Digital Home Entertainment (SDHE) will handle the acquisition, marketing and distribution of content in the form of VCDs, DVDs, and other digital formats.

The release says that Sony will capitalise on the opportunities in the Indian home video business. The market, largely controlled by a few family-owned companies, has seen a phenomenal growth in the last few years. Currently estimated at around Rs 1.5 billion ion, the market is expected to explode to nearly Rs 10 billion in the next five years, says the release. 

Sony Music India MD Shridhar Subramaniam was quoted as saying: "The growing home video market is a big component of our business plans in the country. We have allotted $1 million for acquisition of rights for this year alone."

" We intend to redefine the whole home video experience and make it more pleasurable for the entire family with key focus being relevant content and high quality discs. Our strengths in music marketing and distribution as well as our relationships with film producers give us the unique advantage of entering the market on the front foot," Subramaniam added.

The company is in dialogue with leading Indian producers for acquisition of home video rights. It is also talking to Hollywood majors for releasing their films on DVD in India. SDHE has entered into a strategic tie-up with Shemaroo Video for better exploitation of the latter's catalogue. On the anvil are also non-film content like TV serials, sports, cookery shows, yoga, spiritual programmes. etc.

SDHE makes its entry with Karan Johar's mega blockbusters - Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. It has also acquired the home video rights to the prestigious Cricket World Cup 2003 and will be releasing the classic 'India v/s Pakistan' match as the first title of the series. These will be released along with other music video based and sports titles, including the historic 'India v/s England Natwest Trophy Finals 2002'.

The release adds that Sony Music has always set standards for quality and innovative marketing in the music business. For the first time in history, a movie will be released with as many as six Indian language subtitles! The viewer can enjoy the Karan Johar extravaganza, popularly known as K3G with a choice of English, Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam and Bengali subtitles!

Similarly, since Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne was a big hit in the North East, it will also feature 'Assamese' subtitles. The DVDs will be loaded with lots of interactive features. In addition to the standard scene and song sections, there will be picture galleries, profiles of the cast and crew, prominent quotes by leading stars and other recommended Sony titles.

All SDHE titles will be released on DVD9 discs, which is a format that stores almost double the information than the regular DVD5 discs. All titles will carry digitally remastered sound in 5.1 Dolby Digital format. The titles will also be available at extremely competitive prices with Hindi film DVDs at Rs 349 and VCDs at Rs 199.

Industry watchers are eagerly awaiting the developments since Sony Music's entry will add a lot of structure and credibility to an industry that has so far been considered a low-end and unreliable revenue source by most content owners. It will bring in a dramatically improved level of transparency in commercial transactions and royalty payments.

According to the release, Sony Music's entry is also expected to greatly strengthen the anti-piracy measures that are so critical for this business to grow. It remains to be seen if Sony Music will have the same success that it has achieved in the music industry in such short time.

Considering the credentials of the parent company, this could well be a possibility. Sony Music Entertainment Inc. (SMEI), New York, claims to be one of the world's largest record companies with a turnover of over US $ 5 billion. SMEI is a group company of Sony Corporation, whose annual turnover exceeds US $ 60 billion. Sony Music is represented in more than 60 countries worldwide.

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