Samuh OTT platform, a boon to the local film industry

Samuh’s Vcinema has provided an additional platform to the local film producers to screen their movies

Samuh, Bhutan’s first OTT platform, has not only made watching Bhutanese movies, series, and other entertainment content easier, but it has also come as a boon to the local film industry severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Samuh’s Vcinema is a pay-per-view platform where film producers can screen their movies. It serves as a virtual theatre where registered users of Samuh can buy and watch movies from the comforts of their homes.

So far, Samuh has screened several movies from the local producers. This includes movies like Dhew Sanjaa, Thimphu Choelom, and Dzi Mito Gu. Some more movies are lined up for streaming. An international co-production, Rohingya, was also streamed on Samuh. 

The Creative Director of Samuh, Kinley Tshering said that Vcinema service was introduced primarily to provide an additional platform to film producers to screen their movies.

“Lack of theatres and proper distribution system continue to hamper the growth of the film industry in Bhutan. The Vcinema platform is therefore an effort to address these challenges.”

Bhutanese producers basically screen their movies in theatres in Thimphu, Paro, and Phuentsholing. Many producers also travel with their movies to other dzongkhags to screen their movies in school auditoriums.

The pandemic has further aggravated the situation. Cinema halls were closed for two years to prevent the Covid-19 spread. Around 40 movies are in queue, waiting to be screened in the few cinema halls in the country. Only recently the theaters were opened but had to operate in 50% capacity.

Producers and Samuh split the revenue earned from Vcinema. 60% of the revenue goes to the producer and 40% to Samuh.

Samuh officially launched its web and app platforms in June 2021. So far it has more than 70,000 registered users in 105 countries around the world. 

Samuh has both subscription and pay-per-view services.

“We are at the forefront of digital innovation, particularly in the field of digital content creation, distribution, and streaming. And as such, we are positive that our platform will not only benefit individual filmmakers and producers but also help develop the entire ecosystem of the creative industries,” said Kinley Tshering. 

During the pandemic, Samuh has also been creating job opportunities for film professionals who were jobless with many productions stalled or postponed. 

In the past one year alone, Samuh has engaged around 800 Bhutanese professionals from the film industry. It plans to upscale its production in 2022 and engage more than 1,500 professionals from the industry. 

Samuh was started with fund support from Bank of Bhutan through the National Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu