Russia's Group Launches Online Video Service

The company, owned by Russia's richest tycoon Alisher Usmanov, is to offer Hollywood fare and local releases.

MOSCOW -- Russia's Group, controlled by the country's richest man, Alisher Usmanov, has launched an online video service, which is to offer users releases from Hollywood majors and local fare.

The video service was launched by the group's division Afisha in partnership with Play Lite, which has agreements with Sony Pictures, Walt Disney, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Universal and Paramount.

A user will be able to watch movies online within 48 hours of making a payment, with prices ranging from $0.8 (29 rubles) for older movies to $8.4 (299 rubles) for recent releases.

The business daily Vedomosti quoted the video service's head Alexei Antropov as saying that before the end of the year a subscription model is also going to be launched.

At the moment, Afisha is offering users 3,000 movies on a pay-per-view basis, and another 4,000 titles are available for free on an ad-sponsored model. Group is moving into the Russian online video market at a time when it is developing rapidly, partly boosted by stricter antipiracy legislation adopted last year. Since then, Russia's legitimate online video services have substantially stepped up their operations, the other major players in the market being iTunes, Google Play,,,,,, and

Usmanov, who has recently been named Russia's richest tycoon for the third year in a row, with wealth of $18.6 billion according to the US magazine Forbes, has controlled Group since 2010.