The entire world is under lockdown and the world is at a standstill. People stuck at home now pass their time in the realm of entertainment. Currently, video streaming sites are the most popular medium for entertainment. Subscribers to different foreign and local video platforms have been increasing.
Among all, the most popular site – Netflix started its journey in 1997 from the United States and now, has 183 million paid members across 190 countries. The site broke all previous records of subscriptions during the lockdown all over the world. In the first three months of this lockdown period, 16 million new members availed subscription.
The number is three times higher than the number of 2019s last three months, according to a BBC report. The authorities of Netflix are expecting to have 7.5 million new subscribers by June. When all the businesses have come to a halt, the site has seen a huge profit. The value of its shares is increasing, according to the report titled "Netflix gets 16 million new sign-ups thanks to lockdown". Netflix has earned three times higher in the first three months of 2020 than it earned in the first three months of 2019.
But, delivering new content is now Netflix's main concern as shooting has remained suspended for a long time. However, the site is going to release some new series and movies in June.
Netflix has seen a rise in its subscription in Bangladesh like it has seen in other parts of the world. In 2017, the number of subscriptions in Bangladesh was around two lakhs. In last two years, the number had doubled, according to a Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) official. But during the lockdown, all the previous records had been broken, said the official, seeking anonymity.
A committee has been formed to look into the matter of using cards to subscribe the site and the issue of VAT and tax. Currently, the National Board of Revenue is working with the committee.
Meanwhile, several Bangladeshi movies have made their places on Netflix. Mostafa Sarwar Farooki's "Television" and "Pipra Bidya" were on the list but had been removed from the site. Now the site is streaming Impress Telefilm's "Komola Rocket" and "Iti Tomari Dhaka".
Abu Shahed Imon, consultant of Impress Telefilm, said viewers had shown much interest in the two movies. "Netflix has a pool of good content. It will stream the movies for a certain time. However, the good thing is that viewers are watching the movies with enthusiasm during this lockdown," said Shahed.
On the other hand, the number of subscribers to Hoichoi, a Kolkata-based video streaming site, has increased as well. The site launched its office in Bangladesh last year.
Sakib R Khan, Hoichoi Bangladesh business lead, said Hoichoi's subscription cost is comparatively low. "The site can be subscribed at Tk499 for the whole year and it can be paid through card or mobile banking. Besides, the quality of our content is very good. So, the number of subscribers has been rising gradually. But, the pace of growth has doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Sakib.
But, as usual, the authorities of Hoichoi are also worried over how to provide new content. Shootings are not taking place now, so, the site has also opted for old content and movies.
Bioscope, a video streaming site of Grameenphone, is also suffering from content crisis. That is why the authorities of the site are making several short films from home for streaming during Eid-ul-Fitr. On the occasion, they are working on "Ghorbondi Somoyer Golpo" - series of seven short films shot by seven directors - Gias Uddin Selim, Shihab Shahin, Nurul Alam Atik, Animesh Aich, Sumon Anwar, Shafayet Monsur Rana, and Goutam Koiri - under Alfa I Studios' banner.
A senior official of Bioscope said, "Actually, we have to make content keeping pace with time because we cannot keep our site inactive. We choose content as per viewers' demand so, we have to come up new content anyway."
However, new content will be uploaded on Bongbd and iflix on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. Besides, several new video streaming sites have appeared ahead of the Eid. Addatimes of Kolkata and Binge started on May 21. The subscribers to these sites will be able to enjoy over 3,000 local and international content, including more than 140 live HD TV channels, Binge exclusive originals, web series, and the latest web films.
Binge is going to release real life crime-based web series "14th August" - the first of its kind in Bangladesh. Shihab Shahin, the director of the series happens to be the writer of the script as well. The series features Shahiduzzaman Selim, Tasnuva Tisha, Munira Mithu, and Shatabdi Wadud.