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After two unsuccessful attempts at video streaming, here’s how ZEE cracked the OTT puzzle with ZEE5

9 28 0

ZEE was not only India’s first-ever satellite TV channel (launched in the early ’90s), but also the first broadcaster to venture into ‘online streaming’ at a time when it was an alien concept in the entertainment industry.

It was February 2012, and at a glittering press conference in Mumbai, ZEE MD and CEO Punit Goenka unveiled DittoTV - ZEE’s subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) service that would enable users to watch live TV, movies, and music videos on their PCs, phones, laptops, and BlackBerrys. (Those were the days when companies made special efforts to develop apps for BlackBerrys.)

Not many present at the event that evening would have grasped the concept of online video streaming. Surely, DittoTV was ahead of its time, at least in price-sensitive and low-bandwidth India, and it struggled to make a mark.

Four years on, in February 2016, ZEE made a second attempt to capture the video streaming market with OZEE - an advertising video-on-demand (AVoD) service that was a bit like YouTube and gave free content access to all its users.

By this time, online streaming was not entirely unheard of in India, given the success of ZEE rival STAR India’s Hotstar that had picked up considerable buzz during the 2015 Cricket World Cup. And, there was Netflix, of course, which launched in the country just a month ago (January 2016), marking a shift in the way entertainment would be produced and consumed going forward.

OZEE, despite clocking 145 million-odd views in a quarter, failed to make a significant impact, even though the video-streaming or OTT market in India was becoming more cluttered by the day. Amazon Prime Video, launched in December 2016, and a bunch of homegrown services from VOOT and ALTBalaji to SonyLIV and JioTV, etc. competed for viewership and wallet share.

Suddenly, everyone was creating for digital. A-listers lined up. Budgets shot up. Users increased. The number of OTT services in India ballooned to about 30.

In February 2018, ZEE consolidated its DittoTV and OZEE platforms to roll out an all-new OTT service - ZEE5, which offered content in 12 languages across multiple formats from original films and web shows to short fiction content, book-to-screen adaptations, digital movie premiers, and more. There was regular TV content too, from ZEE’s vast broadcast network of 45 channels.

Tarun Katial, CEO of ZEE5 India

In a year since launch, ZEE5 notched up 61.5 million users in English, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, and Punjabi. These are on ZEE5’s own platform only, and do not include viewers coming in from its ecosystem partners, including telecom operators, device manufacturers, and ecommerce companies.

According to ZEE’s latest quarterly results, ZEE5 users spend an average of 31 minutes per day on the platform, and video views per user have almost doubled, leading to a “significant improvement” in app engagement. Further, ZEE5 has crossed 50 million........

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