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OTT isn’t cannibalising TV viewership but increasing viewers’ screen time: Archana Anand of Zee5

The Chief Business Officer of the video streaming app reveals the platform’s growth plans, which includes creating content in foreign languages. Anand also says the crowded Indian OTT segment may see a lot of consolidation as content creation requires deep pockets

Archana Anand

Video streaming service Zee5 has seen solid growth at home and across the South Asian diaspora present globally. To expand its viewership, Zee5 now plans to launch original foreign language content for South Asian countries, said Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, Zee5 Global.

The app is eyeing to become a global entertainment destination in multiple Indian and foreign languages and already entering markets such as APAC, Africa and MENA, Anand told in an interview.

On the debate about OTT platforms eating into TV viewership, Anand said, “It is the individual’s time that is being cannibalised by OTT apps and not any other mediums. Mobile and personal viewership is growing with an individual’s personal time not at the expense of another medium’s viewership share.”

Anand said due the expensive nature of content creation, the on-demand video streaming segment will soon see a lot consolidation.


Zee5 is eyeing to enhance its global reaching by launching content in multiple Indian and foreign languages. What’s your growth plan?
We are definitely planning to launch content in a lot of foreign languages. We would be targeting markets such as Thailand. The entire plan would be shared in the next phase.

The immediate plan with the ‘Dil se Desi’ campaign is to capture the South Asian diaspora because we can directly take the content we have on Zee5 here in India to the global market (by dubbing). We know it would be well-accepted across Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepali, Sri Lankan and other South Asian audiences. We have seen from historical data from the past two platforms we had (DittoTV and OZee) where the content was received very well by the audience.

In the next phase, we plan to create content for the local markets.

What potential Zee5 has in terms of revenue?
We can’t share numbers but in the next six months, we are looking to become the go-to destination for entertainment content for the South Asian audience just like we did it in India and became the No.1 entertainer.

The app was launched in February. How has been the response been?
We launched it in India in February and now we are launching it in the international markets. We did a soft launch for international markets on October 2. We didn’t go loud on the marketing, but technically it was available across the globe for downloading via app stores such as Android, IOS and on websites. On November 14, we decided to take the ‘Dil se Desi’ TVC live. Our formal international launch will happen soon. We will do the campaign across MENA, APAC and Africa as the primary markets. Other markets that would be covered are Canada, Caribbean and Europe.

Zee5 would face intense competition from Indian apps such as Hotstar, along with the likes of international giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. What is your action plan?
Each of these video streaming services has its own core value propositions. Hotstar is sports-heavy. Netflix is all about global content and originals.

We wanted to be the largest language destination for entertainment content. Even when we go globally, we want to be the largest global destination for entertainment content there as well. We are going to be unique in that particular category and there is definitely a place for us.

Do you think that Zee5 would end up cannibalising the group GECs and movie channels?
It is the individual’s viewership pie that we are targeting. Traditional television continues to exist, especially in Indian markets and also seems to be thriving. What we are doing is we are eating more into a person’s individual time. The only thing that is being cannibalised is the individual’s time. Your medium is staying as it is, your time is extending. Mobile or personal device viewership is growing and not at the expense of another medium but at your personal time.

Every Indian major television network has its OTT platform along with smaller independent players. Telcos have their separate platforms. Do you think the segment could see some consolidation soon?
Consolidation happens for multiple reasons. It is a very expensive space to be in. You need deep pockets and a lot of focus. In this content space, we need consumers’ eyeballs. We have to be on a side where eyeballs are. For us to be in the OTT space is the most natural next sequence of our life. But it is an expensive space, there are many players. Staying power will be challenging for a lot of players. Consolidation is bound to happen.

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