Indian streaming platform ZEE5 Global’s chief business officer, Archana Anand, played down concerns over password sharing by its users, at a time when rival Netflix is cracking down on the revenue-sapping practice. “For me, password sharing is not all bad…I would love for people to pay up and use my service, but it’s not my number one problem that keeps me awake at night,” said Anand, who oversees ZEE5’s business beyond India. Last month, Netflix told its subscribers in the United States and more than 100 countries that they had to pay more to share the service with someone outside their household. Netflix and rival Amazon Prime Video are also tapping into advertisements to bulk up their revenue.
Disney’s Hotstar topped India’s streaming market between January 2022 and March 2023 with a 38 percent share of viewership, while rivals Netflix and Prime Video held 5 percent each, data from research firm Media Partners Asia showed. ZEE5 held a 7 percent share, a notch above Sony Liv. For ZEE5, which is looking to win new subscribers abroad, password sharing presents an opportunity. The platform spends about $90 (approximately Rs. 7,400) to acquire a single customer in the United States, its biggest overseas market. When paid users share their password with friends in places where ZEE5 is unheard of, a new customer is introduced to the brand, Anand explained.
ZEE5 tops the list of Indian streaming companies in the United States, Middle East, Europe, and Australia, with about 826,600 active users, as per data from research firm App Annie. Rivals Sony Liv and Alt Balaji rank lower in the order, the data showed. The Zee Group company outpaced its peers after becoming one of the first platforms to stream Oscar-winning Indian movie RRR and other widely watched films like The Kashmir Files globally.
Meanwhile, monetisation remains a challenge for ZEE5 in India and abroad, Elara Capital analyst Karan Taurani said. The platform reported a loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 1,105 crore rupees in the fiscal year ended March 31, parent Zee Entertainment said last month. Zee Entertainment is in the process of merging its operations with the local unit of Japan’s Sony Corp. However, the merger has been delayed due to regulatory issues at the Indian company. Anand declined to comment on what the future holds for ZEE5 when the merger goes through.
© Thomson Reuters 2023