Zubin Dubash, COO - New Media Business, Shemaroo Entertainment
Zubin Dubash, COO - New Media Business, Shemaroo Entertainment

In the last 57 years, a lot has changed in the way entertainment content is consumed. From VHS to OTT, Shemaroo Entertainment, a content creator, aggregator and distributor, has witnessed it all. It is among the very few in the space that has managed to move fast as technologies kept changing. To understand its strategy to incorporate change in its business model, Free Press Journal’s Jescilia K and Pankaj Joshi speak with Zubin Dubash, COO - Digital, Shemaroo Entertainment.

Below given are edited excerpts:

Shemaroo was king of its entertainment genre in the 1970s. Now, what is your market share and revenue?
We look at our share in the area which we want to compete and not the entire pie. It does not make sense to go and map the entire game when you are not playing it.

We are an ROI-focused organisation. Thus far, we have been quite successful over the five decades.

A factor that has helped our business is Shemaroo’s association with nostalgia. For instance, the new content, in say movie or music, will get massive traction in the first two-three weeks but dies out later. However, the blockbuster content of the 1970s and 1980s has massive traction even today due to the nostalgia factor.

We had then invested in the rich content of the 1970s and 1980s, which is why we can reap more revenues even today. This nostalgia is more incidental and not intentional. Our intent is always to be revenue focused and ROI-focused.

Would you be positioning yourself as a B2B or B2C company?

We wear two hats — we are on the cusp of B2B and B2C. So, we still work along with other New Over The Top (OTT) streaming platforms. At the same time, we have ShemarooMe, where people can consume all Shemaroo content in one application. The latter is a good experience for all the Shemaroo lovers.

We may end up putting a few titles in some other streaming platforms (like Netflix), but that is not our core strategy. However, it is not a hard and fast rule or demarcated line. We aim to connect more and more directly with the individual consumer.

We work with every partner in the ecosystem — whether it is the telcos, OTT players, or e-commerce players (like Flipkart). We also work a lot with unconventional content alliances and partners. Before the lockdown, ShemarooMe partnered with ixigo train. This partnership was forged to increase engagement with visitors (in ixigo) who came to buy tickets. This is because video content is more sticky.

We have been working closely with the entire ecosystem on driving ShemarooMe. Recently, we have worked on a couple of innovations within the OTT space. There are more than 40 plus players in OTT space today and everyone is trying to push their content. Finally, content wins and not the platform.

Bollywood and movies are our forte. ShemarooMe is not in the original content space or web series space. In order to attract more content loyal users to our platform, we launched a very innovative service titled ShemarooMe Bollywood Premiere. Digitally, every Friday one movie is released which has not been launched in digital platform before. This service is only available to those customers who have subscribed to our platform. This initiative became one of our flagship properties.

ShemarooMe Box Office is for those new films that are unable to get a theatrical launch due to the lockdown. The movie buffs can either do an advance booking in our app or book a ticket from Bookmyshow. In the case of the producers, they are looking for a platform like ours to showcase their movies. It is simply a new form of theatre. We have already launched two movies. We are about to release the movie ‘The Hidden Strike’, which is a surgical strike-based film. It is coming out on Independence Day — the timing of the release is perfect keeping up with the mood of the nation. We have got a line-up of movies until September.

The producers come to us to market the film. We work on a revenue model that is lucrative for the producer, the ticketing partner, ourselves and the consumer. This works for the ecosystem.

Does ShemarooMe have documentaries, considering you are looking at alternate content?

Not really. While our main focus is movie content, regional language content is also available on our platform. We have digitised a lot of popular Gujarati plays. Thus, we have a good bank of such content in our catalogue.

Apart from Bollywood and regional, we have a good presence in devotion — broken into two, Hinduism and Islam. Our platform takes a live feed from 12-15 temples across India.

We are also present in the kids' space. In that area, we have done a few things like the content is parentally controlled. Likewise, we have positioned our kids' content as that which is driven by Indian values among other merits.

What is ShemarooMe's subscription model?

We have a yearly and monthly subscription model. While yearly is at Rs 999, the monthly is at Rs 129 (at present per month model is on hold). We have just introduced a three-monthly and a six-monthly subscription model at Rs 299 and Rs 599 respectively.

We have a separate category pricing for content specific subscription as well like devotional alone or Gujarati alone. All those packs are priced at Rs 500 per year.

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Free Press Journal