Wilderness Films India On Google Video

Wilderness Films India Ltd (WFI) is distributing their archival footage online via the Google Video Store. They are the largest “factual content aggregator” from South Asia, with over 3000 hours of broadcast and travel content.
Rupin Dang, Director, WFI informs us that they are acquiring the copyright to material owned by many small content libraries and commissioning shooting of more footage. They’re adding 14 hours of footage to Google Video each week, covering geography, education, religion, science, travel and a lot more. At present there are 1773 small and low res video clips available, covering over 350 hours of footage. Their archive has been informally valued at $50 million and they are evaluating private equity proposals as well.
In an interview with ContentSutra, Dang talks about his experience with Google Video venture, and his plans for WFI:

How has the Google Video experience been so far? How long has your content been online at Google Video?
Google’s workflows are smooth, data security and management is impeccable and far better than any commercial web hosting option that we could possibly have tied up with. We have had 0% data downtime since the launch, on the 7th of January 2006! And since it is all integrated with Google’s tried and tested search engine, the search functions on the Google Video site are as good as the best available anywhere. We were one of the original premium partners of Google Video, and Wilderness Films was the first South Asian company to provide content for the Google Video Store.

What kind of sales have you achieved so far?
Revenue shares and revenue generation information is guarded by mutual NDAs, but I can safely say that we have already had thousands of paid downloads / sales so far, and by the end of this year, we would have had several millions of pageviews as well. Needless to say, this is just a modest beginning, and as the technology and the market spreads, we project a geometric progression in both the paid downloads and pageviews by 2007 and 2008 respectively.

Could you give us some information on the people/institutions who have bought the content from you via the Google Video store?
It is difficult to predict who is viewing our content at present. However, we know that we are only being able to make sales to US credit card holders. When this changes, and the store becomes more global in nature, our sales should increase by at least 10 times. And since the resolution of the clips is limited to 1 mbps, we are largely addressing the consumer and educational markets through this medium.
Having material online also benefits us in that broadcasters/TV channels, NGO’s, corporates and educational institutions know that we have this material, and they have been writing in to us to obtain higher resolution material for their higher-end broadcasting needs. The content that we have up on Google Video is protected by a rigorous DRM regime that prevents the clips from being shared or commercially harvested in any way, since the prices are so low, in any case.
Since we shoot a lot of our material on High Definition and Digi Beta, the average bit rates of the masters ranges from 80 to 185 mbps, whereas the online digitized versions are running at 1 mbps, so you can imagine the tremendous compromise in the original image quality. Of course, 185 mbps is only needed for theatrical release in feature films and for projection work! For consumer and educational needs the average online viewing needs of broadcasters, 1 mbps is more than enough.

Have any inquiries for the Hi-Res footage been made via Google Video?
At present we have less than 5% of our entire archive online, and we already run the largest online archive on South Asia! By the time we reach the point of having digitized the entire collection, our archive would also have grown tremendously, organically and inorganically. And the market would have matured. More and people would be turning to online sources of content for various requirements. And yes, we hope to have many more broadcasters prowling around online for potentially broadcast-able material. The signs are already there, and deals are already happening, at least we far as we are concerned.

Any projections – how many video sales are you looking at by the end of the year?
We are not making any projections as yet. We are just watching what’s happening at present. We know the going will be far better months ahead. We are too busy digitizing and turning around our content at present. And creating more and more content, with up to a dozen crews in the field at any point in time. We are discussing many more online alliances and will be coming up with some fantastic fresh developments by next year.
By 2008, we expect to be selling 10,000 clips per day, including documentaries and feature films.

I understand that “We’re no monks” won a telly award. How’s the response been for “We’re no monks” on Google Video after the award?
It was actually ‘India in Transition’ that won a Telly Award. As for WNM on GV, even after months of the film’s online release, we continue to have hundreds of thousands of pageviews of the film’s clips, and a satisfactory number of downloads as well. Overall, we’re happy with the choice of an online release of this film, surely a first for any feature film from South Asia!

I also noticed that you’re at Elance (Edit:an online marketplace for services). How’s that shaping up?
Nothing great so far. We’re not focussing on the low value service segment any longer. All we have seen on Elance have been low value projects so far. Yes, we are looking at low value low price high volume sales of quality content!

Previous ContentSutra Interviews:
Faisal Farooqui, CEO Mouthshut.com
Sandeep Singhal, MD, WestBridge, WestBridge Capital Partners