LBC Media hoping people’s binge-watching habit amid pandemic would stay on | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 28, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:39 AM, July 28, 2020

LBC Media hoping people’s binge-watching habit amid pandemic would stay on

One of the beneficiaries from this unprecedented spell of being cooped up at home has been the online media streaming platforms as people all on a sudden have a gulf of free time in hand.

And one business is betting big that this trend will continue once the rogue coronavirus has been extinguished. That company is LBC Media Entertainment Company, a business associate of Agrani Holdings Group.

From next week, LBC subscribers would be able to view the content of popular Indian streaming platform Eros Now, which offers Bollywood, Punjabi, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bangla, Marathi, Kannada, Malayalam, Bhojpuri full movies and Indian music in over 140 countries.

This comes after its partnership with Kolkata-based Addatimes, which develops original web series, short and feature films and video songs in Bangla, two months back.

More than 50,000 subscribers in Bangladesh have watched Addatimes content since LBC signed the deal, according to Nusrat Jarin, head of marketing at LBC Media.

"LBC is the first Bangladeshi company that distributes global streaming services to the country's customers," she said, adding that the number of streaming partners will increase soon.

The local pioneering video streaming platform is also focused on making Bangla content as it has already made three television dramas, which would soon be uploaded on its streaming partners' platform. 

"After Eid, we are going to make a Bangla web series," Jarin said.

Customers can subscribe to LBC's video streaming service by way of its app or website and make payments through bKash or bank cards.

And for credit cardholders of Standard Chartered, a sweet deal awaits them: they will enjoy 14-month viewership by availing a 12-month subscription package and also enjoy double reward points.

Media consumption patterns, which were already evolving, are now changing faster than ever, said Tawfique Imam, head of Standard Chartered's credit card, personal loan and corporate partnerships.

"We are continuing to build an ecosystem of products and services that caters to the digital lifestyle of our customers with curated experiences," he said in a press release.

The partnership with Standard Chartered will enhance the opportunity of reaching out to a bigger audience in delivering video-on-demand service across the country, said Omar Faruque, head of the LBC's operation and sales.

"Our group has over the years, earned the reputation of rapidly developing strategic business environments with a strong understanding of local culture," he added.

The deals are all in line with the group's plans to dominate the business of content distribution through telecommunications, the internet, set-top boxes and TVs.

Other than LBC, housebound Bangladeshi viewers have the option of global streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, ZEE5, Malaysia-based iflix and Bioscope of Grameenphone.

All the platforms have already drawn a large number of viewers in Bangladesh amidst the pandemic.

This has left the taxmen over at the National Board of Revenue in a state of pickle.

To subscribe to the foreign streaming platforms, customers have to pay the subscription fees in foreign currency, for which they have to endorse dollars against credit cards to make digital payments.

The state coffer was being deprived of a 15 per cent value-added tax applicable on the subscription fees, according to an NBR official.

However, some bank officials confirmed to The Daily Star last month that they were taking the 15 per cent VAT against digital subscription fees as per the Bangladesh Bank's guidance.

"Last year, we collected the VAT from Facebook, Google and Youtube. This year we made a comprehensive list of such companies including Netflix and Amazon Prime," Md Mahiul Islam, head of retail banking at Brac Bank, told The Daily Star.

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