May 20, 2024

Indian streamer ZEE5 Global is taking a leaf out of the Prime Video Channels playbook by aggregating six South Asian streaming services within its platform in the U.S.

Branded as Add-ons, the streamers are Simply South, which offers content in the South Indian languages Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, Oho Gujarati in the Gujarati language, Chaupal in the Punjabi, Bhojpuri and Haryanvi languages, NammaFlix in the Kannada language, the Hindi-language Epic On and the Malayalam-language iStream. There are ongoing discussions with six more streaming platforms. The streamers can be added on to an existing ZEE5 Global subscription, which costs $79.99 annually for 4K or $59.99 for standard or $12.99 monthly for 4K.

The Add-ons are all on monthly subscriptions and NammaFlix is at $1.49, Oho Gujarati at $1.99, Epic On at $1.99, Chaupal at $4.99 (or $3.99 for 10 days every month), Simply South at $4.99 and iStream at $1.99.

The flagship shows from the Add-on partners are “Mark Antony” (Simply South), “Vitthal Teedi” (Oho Gujarati), “Tatlubaaz” (Epic On), “Mastaney” (Chaupal), “Stalker” (NammaFlix) and “Me Myself And I” (iStream).

ZEE5 Global Add-ons was unveiled by Amit Goenka, president, digital businesses and platforms and Archana Anand, chief business officer, ZEE5 Global at an event in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Goenka said: “With the launch of our aggregator platform ZEE5 Add-ons, we aim to unite the entertainment ecosystem for the discerning viewer to build a robust monetization opportunity for multiple players in the global markets. We are pleased to have on board some of the most renowned names offering South Asian content to the diaspora audience, and we look forward to building a healthy partnership by enhancing capabilities in the realm of content creation and distribution by establishing ZEE5 Global Add-ons as the single destination for all South Asian content.”

ZEE5 Global claims one million monthly active users in the U.S. According to data.ai (formerly App Annie), the platform had 2.95 million users in the Nov. 12-18 period. “In the U.S., it’s been almost 15 times ahead of our nearest competition, which is quite unique in that there were bigger players who actually tried to make a mark in this market and weren’t quite able to do so. And therefore, our win in this market has been very special,” New York-based Anand told Variety. Aggregation was the next logical step, Anand said.

“It was the easiest sell, every one of these guys who ever moved to this market was doing it for the obvious reason, they were content creators who now wanted to find a way to distribute their content. And they believed streaming was the logical way forward,” Anand added. “But in a day and time where I think streaming is under tremendous stress world over as a model, I think these guys saw it as absolutely logical to sit within us, which means they got instant access to our reach, which is stupendous. We negate them of marketing costs and of customer acquisition costs and technology costs, because it’s sitting within us and we’re doing the heavy lifting, which means technically, they get to be EBITDA [Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] positive from the get go.”

ZEE5 Global is also launching consumer giveback program, the Great ZEE5 GiveAway, for its U.S. customers over the next few weeks in association with partners like South Asian online marketplace Quicklly, where with every purchase of ZEE5 or any Add-on pack, all new or existing subscribers will win gift cards or all-expenses-paid trips to destinations like Hawaii and Las Vegas.

An India-to-U.S. referral program is also being rolled out where subscribers in India will be able to share their unique referral link with friends or family in the U.S. and earn INR500 ($6) for each successful referral, with no capping on the number of referrals.

At the event, Anand also revealed that a campaign against global piracy would be launched soon, based on the Rand Report on IP piracy. “Rand has done very extensive research and showed a very strong linkage between film piracy and organized crime,” Anand said, adding that the two main reasons why people use pirated streaming boxes – a single destination and low cost – would be solved by ZEE5 Global’s aggregation.

Other markets will also join the aggregation model eventually, but it is limited to the U.S. for now. The U.S. is currently the only international market where ZEE5 Global is subscription-based, with the other markets operating on the ‘freemium’ model.

Over in the realm of sports, Major League Cricket tournament in the U.S. had a successful first innings and Anand says that it is a space that the company is watching.

Meanwhile, a game changing merger between Sony and Zee is currently in the works, albeit delayed, which could potentially lead to synergies between ZEE5 and fellow South Asian streamer SonyLIV.

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