OTT platforms are partnering with travel agencies, airlines and cruises to tap on-the-go audiences
By Sonam Saini
OTT players ZEE5, ALTBalaji, Eros Now, ShemarooMe and SonyLIV are trying hard to become part of consumers’ travel itineraries, to make their content accessible on the go. ZEE5, for instance, recently partnered with multi-destination cruise line Jalesh Cruises for the Middle East market. The platform has had tie-ups with MakeMyTrip and RailYatri as well. SonyLIV, too, announced a partnership with IndiGo Airlines last month, whereas Eros Now has tie-ups with British Airways as well as AirAsia (through its in-flight wi-fi service provider, Rokki).
This trend — of video streaming players partnering travel majors — was perhaps first flagged off by Netflix globally. The US-based video streaming company partnered with Virgin America in 2015 to offer its content in-flight for free across devices, using Virgin’s wi-fi services on select aircraft.
Tap on the go
Through these partnerships, OTT players hope to leverage the large user base of travel companies. For example, ALTBalaji’s partnership with MakeMyTrip allows MMT Black subscribers — its rewards and loyalty programme — access to a one-year subscription of ALTBalaji. “This alliance helps us reach consumers who otherwise might not get to experience the library of original content offerings from our catalogue,” says a spokesperson from ALTBalaji.
ZEE5’s tie-up with Jalesh Cruises offers guests on the cruise in the Middle East a one-month free subscription to ZEE5; that apart, ZEE5 subscribers can avail a 15% discount on the cruise. Archana Anand, chief business officer, ZEE5, says, “By virtue of the fact that OTT allows for consuming content anytime and anywhere, such platforms have a natural synergy with airlines, hotels and cruise ships.”
Such deals also help OTT platforms to target a prospective consumer cohort. “With the Jalesh Cruises association, we are looking at 30 million South Asians across the globe, as they are more likely to consume our content,” Anand adds. In addition to this, ZEE5’s partnership with RailYatri allows for introductory sachet offers for railways customers, whereas through its erstwhile partnership with MakeMyTrip, forged last year, users could avail various discount offers.
Then there’s SonyLIV, whose weekly pack is available for Rs 25 for passengers flying by IndiGo Airlines. “It becomes an added benefit for the airlines, and for OTT players, it’s a new area for content consumption,” says Uday Sodhi, former business head – digital, Sony Pictures Networks India.
Meanwhile, AirAsia customers can watch Eros Now’s content for free. There is also a microsite that enables guests to purchase a discounted subscription plan on board, including a free one-month subscription. Some of Eros Now’s content partnerships with other airlines are based on the pay-per-view model. The company is also in talks with a Russian airline.
Prashant Gaonkar, VP, in-flight entertainment, Eros International, shares, “In-flight entertainment helps us target not just NRIs and others from the Indian sub-continent, but also large sections of people who like to watch Bollywood content with subtitles in their own languages.” In fact, according to a recent Emirates report, Bollywood movies are the most popular non-English language films on board.
Making business sense
Girish Menon, partner and head, media and entertainment, KPMG India, believes these tie-ups could be fruitful and cost efficient for OTT players. “These work well for AVOD platforms in terms of their content reaching out to a large base of users at a cost lower than their own customer acquisition cost. Besides, this sampling could potentially drive downloads for the platform in future.”
For SVOD platforms, sampling of content during a commute could possibly drive subscriptions. For this reason, these platforms are also experimenting with travel-specific sachet pricing on travel modes such as Indian Railways.
For travel aggregators and airlines, which mostly use discounts to woo travellers, these tie-ups help differentiate their offerings. “Entertainment and travel have a natural fit. We saw the scope to entertain and engage travellers with curated and personalised content,” says Rajnish Kumar, co-founder and CTO, Ixigo. The company started experimenting with content on its Trains app during the latest IPL season, by introducing cricket scores to keep travellers updated.
Once the entertainment section was launched on the app, Ixigo claims its retention and engagement has gone up. The Trains app, Kumar says, is being used to consume content more than 12-14 times a month per user. The platform is mulling partnerships with ZEE5, Eros Now, NewsPoint and SonyLIV.