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Zee5-Airtel deal: What's in it for both

The partnership gives Airtel TV users access to all Zee5 content. The partnership and its benefits will be promoted across media platforms by both the parties. Mass media will be used for marketing

Zee5, the OTT platform of Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL), has announced its partnership with Bharti Airtel to multiple the reach of its original content. The OTT platform will also benefit by sharing the subscription revenues with the telecom service provider.

Also read: Can OTT platforms really scale up content initiatives of brands?

There are three parts to this deal:

Airtel TV app’s users get access to Zee5 content: Zee5 app content– including originals, movies, TV shows, music videos, lifestyle shows, kids’ shows and plays–will be available through the Airtel TV app. This will add to Airtel’s existing catalogue of over 10,000 shows, movies and 375+ live TV channels. The users of Airtel will continue to enjoy ZEEL’s 37 live TV channels.

Content curation and consumer insight: By jointly pooling ZEEL and Airtel’s knowledge of customer and content consumption preferences, both partners aim to drive proactive curation of content to offer a highly customised and differentiated experience to their customers. In particular, there will be a strong focus on curating regional content, leveraging the strong regional portfolio of ZEEL. This will also ride on Zee5’s strategy of tailoring new content based on what customers are looking for and launching multiple original shows in six different languages every month.

Marketing and distribution: Both partners will also drive joint development and marketing of innovative content solutions for the Indian market and collaborate in areas such as digital advertising.

Tarun Katial

Explaining more on the gains of Zee5, Tarun Katial, CEO, Zee5 India, said, “For the first and second part of the deal, Zee5 will earn on a cost per subscriber fee, which means a share in Airtel TV’s ARPU. As for the third part, we will upsell Zee5 through Airtel TV. We have a referral arrangement with Airtel on that.”

Zee5 is a freemium model, wherein it has a considerable amount of content for free while the exclusive content is on the paid side of the app. The free content serves ads too. With increasing reach of the app, does it help in boosting the advertising revenues too?

Katial explained, “The deal also allows us to reach millions for the VoD content and TV shows where we monetise through advertising. It boosts our ability to be able to get subscribers on all three bundles from the Airtel base. It is great for both – Airtel and us. They get access to more content and we get the reach. By increasing the reach of the content, the advertisers get that advantage on the free VoD content. The consumer might want to explore the free side of the app, even if it came to the app for the premium ad-free content.”

Why Airtel? Would the OTT platform try to get more telecom service providers on board as partners? With Netflix partnering with Tata Sky for VoD content, isn’t DTH too a lucrative segment?

Katial answered, “It is the largest telecom operator with more than 30% market share in the country. This is an exclusive partnership with the select amount of content but we are open to other talking to other players too for some other deals. We are also exploring the DTH relationships, thought we have an advantage with Dish TV.”

The partnership and its benefits will be promoted across media platforms by both the parties. Mass media will also be used for marketing. Those consumers who are on a specific Airtel pack will be able to get Zee5 content bundled with the premium pack. “We will keep communicating this with advertising both in-app and out of it. It will be led through content, with the ability to upsell and cross-sell. This is a significant strategic partnership,” added Katial.

The partnership is expected to deliver further impetus to the growing video content industry in a 360 degree manner – across artists, creators, consumers. It will also help further accelerate the consumption of video and digital-first content for the current millions of users and bring on board the next 100 million users of OTT services, largely from semi-urban and rural markets.

In a press statement released on Monday, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel, said, “Our endeavour is to build a world-class content ecosystem by partnering all players and enable a differentiated digital entertainment experience for our customers. In Airtel TV, we have built a solid digital platform to curate top content from India and across the world and offer it to customers at one place. We are extremely pleased to announce this exclusive partnership with Zee and look forward to collaborating with them to unlock the potential of their vast content catalogue.”

Punit Goenka

Punit Goenka, MD and CEO, ZEEL, said, “As a media and entertainment powerhouse, keeping our consumers at the epicentre of our approach, we aim to be present across every platform, which they wish to access and our alliance with Airtel as their lead content partner is a firm and positive step in this direction. We look forward to this partnership, which will enable us to entertain the customers of Airtel through our thoughtfully curated content offering, leveraging our expertise in content and data. In line with our larger aim for Zee5, to be a number one entertainment OTT player in the country, this alliance further complements the access to our content for the overall digital consumers.”

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