India's UTV exits home entertainment sector

HONG KONG – Indian DVD giant Moser Baer Entertainment is to handle the video releases for the next 25 Hindi movies delivered by UTV Software Communications. Move effectively means that UTV, Disney’s partner in India, has exited the home entertainment sector.

Moser Baer will release 10 movies from UTV Software’s recent catalog and video rights to all UTV productions through the end of 2009.

The two companies are expected to sign a separate deal covering UTV’s ‘world movies’ slate in the coming weeks.

Moser Baer, the world’s second largest blank DVD manufacturer, transformed the Indian home entertainment sector when it moved into content and distribution and amassed rights to thousands of movies in different Indian languages. Able to replicate movies at lower cost than other home entertainment firms it has slashed retail prices for DVDs. The move has proved controversial, but Moser Baer contends that it has expanded the market and is neutralizing the pirate business. It will sell UTV’s Hindi movies at Rupees99 ($2.08) with a release window 6-8 weeks after theatrical release.

‘We prefer to license out our music and home video rights. Our focus is on content creation, aggregation and distribution,” UTV Motion Pictures’ CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur, said. UTV had self-distributed some 15 Hindi movies. “The home video business in India is growing significantly and with the kind of revenue potential it has it can no longer be seen as just another ancillary revenue stream.”

Titles covered by the deal include recent releases “Swades,” “Khosla Ka Ghosla,” “Life in a Metro” and “Aamir.” December and January releases will also include hits “Fashion,” “Kismat Konnection” and “Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye.”

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