The platform has begun preparations to shoot for the next batch of original content in the green zones
ZEE5, the video streaming platform from the house of ZEE Entertainment Enterprises claims to have witnessed a 2x growth in subscription revenue. The OTT platforms attribute much of this growth to the investments it made in creating original content. In conversation with BrandWagon Online, Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5 talks about what’s next for the streaming platform as it looks to build its content pipeline. (Edited Excerpts)
ZEE5 has so far done well to get viewers attention. How much content do you have left in your pipeline and for how long do you expect the viewer’s interest to be there on the platform?
We have been investing in original content for the last 18 to 24 months and today, we are at 100 original shows. Thus we have been able to build a very strong pipeline so much so that we are very well prepared to launch content right up to the end of July. For instance, we recently launched Rejectx, before that we launched Baarish season 2, before that we launched Ateet and before that Casino. At the same time, we’ve been trying to build a pipeline beyond that. We are looking at green zones for productions and filming.
We have also acquired a lot of movies which are going to be released, some of them are under production and plan to skip the theatrical release. For instance, we have released a dark comedy movie Ghoomketu on Eid. So this year we have actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui taking to the screen and not Salman Khan.
Has the surge in viewership translated into revenue in terms of both advertising and subscription?
Our revenue on the back of subscription has grown 2x. That has translated into more and more viewing hours and subscription. So direct subscribers, bundled subscribers which includes partnerships with Jio, Vodafone and Airtel – all of them have grown significantly. The other thing that has helped us that we made significant investments over the last 18 months on building platforms like connected devices and living room devices. So we have tied-up with companies such as LG, Samsung, OnePlus, Amazon Firestick, and other Android TV makers. So, ZEE5 app is installed in all smart TV now.
Which part of the distribution is still left to be covered?
So increasingly what we’re seeing is that a lot of organisations, especially e-commerce platforms, which are looking for better engagement and better retention, are using our subscription as a loyalty trigger. We’ve seen that with Times Prime, Flipkart Coins, RailYatri, among others. Whenever a consumer makes a repeat purchase, these firms induce loyalty to create retention. They believe that this is a great way of connecting with their users.
Is there a fear that userbase might decrease as the situation stabilises and people start migrating to linear TV?
ZEE5 is not only a premium platform, but it’s also a catch-up TV platform. We are, in fact, waiting for subscribers to go back to watch a little bit of linear TV because it brings pace to our platform and then we upgrade some of the free consumers into paid ones. Currently, we have a higher number of premium viewers while the linear TV database is stagnating. Our AVOD to SVOD translation is also fairly big. About 10% of our base on AVOD converts onto SVOD.
Does this mean that advertising revenue has declined?
Yes, advertising has slowed down. It’s down more than what we would have wanted it to be.
What about developing other ancillary parts of the business?
We plan to launch Hypershot – a section which will have 90 seconds of user-generated content, next month. We have also invested in News.
How do you look at the OTT market developing in the next few months?
If the situation continues as people stay at home, it will be important to keep them entertained. It will come down to OTT and its ability to be able to provide content and provide content discovery, as well as content recommendation. So, content creation, content discovery and content recommendation will play a big role.