Budget 2019: Industry gives a thumbs up to govt’s digital push

Single-window clearance for film shoots, introduction of anti-camcording provision in Cinematography Act to fight piracy also bring cheer

NarendraModi

Weeks before the general elections, the Narendra Modi government on Friday presented what is being called a ‘please-all’ Budget. Playing to the gallery, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal announced sops for the middle class, increasing the income tax exemption limit to Rs 5 lakh.

A major highlight of the Budget was the big digital push. The government announced that it will set up 1 lakh digital villages in 5 years. Goyal said that India has done very well in the delivery of mobile data services and the cost of data in India is now possibly the lowest in the world. It was also announced that a national centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI) is under consideration. Along with that a national AI portal will be developed soon.

Giving big relief to the entertainment & media industry, the government announced that a single-window clearance will be made available to filmmakers and anti-camcording provision will be introduced in Cinematography Act to fight piracy.

We caught up with industry leaders to understand what they think of the Budget. Take a look at what they shared: 


Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO and MD, Viacom18

The Finance Minister has provided a tremendous fillip to the Indian entertainment industry with the provision of single-window clearance for films. Such policy provisions that seek to enhance ease of doing business will help the Rs156 bn industry grow at a faster clip. I also welcome the move to include anti-camcording provisions as part of the Cinematography Act. This will ensure that in-theatre pirated recordings now become a penal offense and will act as a strong deterrent to piracy.


Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City  

The pro-growth Budget addresses key factors such as lessening GST burden on homebuyers, rural development and providing a boost for SMEs. We are hopeful that this will increase the domestic spending power of organisations, build consumer confidence and provide a boost to our economy as we steer towards a ‘New India’. As the radio industry gears up for a transformational year with the convergence of media, technology and telecom industries, government’s vision to further accelerate the Digital India programme will help streamline this transition positively.

Aashish Singh, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures

Single-window clearance for Indian filmmakers is a very welcome move and brings Indian film making at par with the evolved international destinations where filming is easy. This will also save time for the producers and discourage malpractices that were being followed by some of the authorities in granting permissions to shoot films.


Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions 

This year’s budget brings nothing but good news to the entertainment industry. The government, via a single-window clearance for film makers, has made a commendable effort to streamline and simplify procedures and permissions. This will not only make it simple for domestic productions, but foreign film makers as well, hence improving the media landscape. With recent films being leaked to the audiences within days of its release, the Anti-camcording provision comes as a boon to the industry which has been fighting piracy all these years and suffering huge losses in the process. Lastly, a step in the right direction with regards to a national centre for artificial intelligence will only lead into companies implementing these modern technologies into their products. When we look at the bigger picture, the customer experience is only going to improve going by these recent announcements.


Rajesh Mishra, CEO- Indian Operations, UFO Moviez

We believe that this is a great move for the Indian film industry. We welcome the government’s initiative, to introduce the anti-camcording provision as part of the Cinematography Act to fight against piracy. This will give teeth to the law to take stringent action against the offender. We are sure this a very pragmatic step ahead by the government and will ensure the reduction of losses the film industry incurs.

Prashan Agarwal, CEO, Gaana

We are extremely positive about the implication of the proposed Budget and strongly believe in the Digital Revolution introduced by the government. The increased consumption of mobile data in the last five years has paved way for the streaming market in India. It will impact the mobile streaming industry in multiple ways, mainly by strengthening penetration in tier II and tier III markets while also increasing exposure among a new set of a potential user base. Enhancing stickiness for the app and encouraging trials, the vision for Digital India will help music streaming apps attain its full potential in the online music space. Additionally, Artificial Intelligence coupled with Big Data will help bridge the gap between demand and supply through insightful analysis of evolving consumer preferences.

Saugata Gupta, MD & CEO, Marico Limited

Simplified tax assessment processes coupled with the increase in tax exemption for income up to Rs 5 lakh per annum for individual tax payers will not only reduce the tax burden on the middle class citizens but also increase the tax payer base in India. It will additionally result in the rise of disposable income in the hands of consumers thereby augmenting consumption. Given its focus on masses, this Budget should place higher disposable income in the hands of a large section of the society which augers well for consumer goods sector in general and rural growth more specifically. Another welcome feature of the Budget was the focus on digital India and building an all-encompassing digital infrastructure.

Krishna Rao, Sr. Category Head, Parle Products

I would call it a progressive budget that will surely help India grow. The attention paid to the welfare, health and other needs of the farmers is commendable. Moreover, the reduction in leakages and increase in transparency for execution of various benefit schemes by the government is also a welcome move.

From a consumer’s perspective, the increase in tax exemption limit, coupled with the increase in gratuity limit will lead to more disposable income in the consumer’s hands. Consequently, this means more consumption of consumer goods and services across the board, which will play a vital part in the growth of the economy. Overall, it is an all-encompassing Budget that covers all sections of society, right from farmers to corporates and the middle class and will lead to an upbeat nation in the coming months.

Ashok Kumar Gupta, Chairperson, Zirca Digital Solutions Pvt Ltd

The interim Budget will give impetus to the rural economy and relief to the middle classes. The provision for a pension scheme for the unorganized workers, including domestic help, has been long awaited and is a welcome move. This being interim Budget, much was not expected for our industry. However the digital industry will definitely grow with the special attention been given to it in today's session.

CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra

With digital and renewable energy at its core, Budget 2019 is reflective of India’s commitment to foster the growth of an inclusive, sustainable economy. It is great to see the government’s vision align with our overall goal to promote the adoption of new age technology such as Artificial Intelligence that will lay the foundation of a new, digitized India. The government’s decision to build 1 lakh digital villages is a step in the right direction to bridge the urban-rural divide and as an industry, we are committed to making this vision come true - Make in India + Digital India = Modern & Equitable India.

Hiren Shah, Founder & CEO, Vertoz

The interim Budget has laid out a clear vision for the country’s development in the coming decade, and digital plays an important role with the government stressing on the development of digital infrastructure and digital economy. It was also heartening to know that India is now leading the world with the highest mobile data consumption and has witnessed a growth of 50 times in the last five years. The finance minister also mentioned that the delivery of mobile data services has seen significant growth. Coupled with the government’s vision of converting 1 lakh villages into digital villages, we will see a deeper penetration of the internet not only in tier II and tier III markets but also in rural areas. This will broaden the horizon for digital advertising, and consequently for programmatic advertising in these markets, thus providing an opportunity to brands and marketers to cater to the customer needs with bespoke products and services.

We are also happy to see AI as a focal part of the Budget for Digital India. This support will ensure that AI, supported by Big Data, will enable the industry to successfully analyse consumer patterns with minimised human intervention. This also brings in the benefits of automation such as more efficiency and faster processing of data for advertising, thus allowing brands to get sales faster and within an effective timeline.

Jitender Singh, Founder & CEO, MiniDukan

The plan to set up 1 lakh digital villages in the next 5 years is great news for companies that deal with customers in Tier 4 to 6 towns. Digitization of rural areas has increasingly become a necessity as a large section of our consumers are based there. In addition, the provision that SMEs earning less than Rs 5 crore will have to file GST only once in three months is sure a relief. The greatest benefit for us will be the reduction of taxes on salaried individuals which will result in greater buying power, something that we have been hoping to achieve. This Budget is sure to provide a great boost to the overall performance of SMEs.


Rajesh Uttamchandani, Director, Syska Group

We welcome the government’s keen focus on building a digitally vibrant India in the next few years. This will provide an opportunity for companies such as Syska to introduce IoT-enabled products that are affordable in the Indian market and help in developing smart cities. Additionally, as energy-efficient product & solutions are seeing increased adoption, we are pleased with the government providing 143 crore LED bulbs to rural areas. This resonates with our mission of providing energy efficient LED lighting solutions that are ‘Made in India’ to every Indian household.


Mitesh Shah, Head of Finance, BookMyShow

The interim Budget for 2019 has been a shot in the arm for several sections of the society through its tax relief measures for the middle class and mega schemes for farmers. 

We appreciate the Budget’s recognition of India’s start-up ecosystem’s contribution to the economy and the creation of a Digital India in Vision 2030 is indicative of the long road ahead for this ecosystem. The Budget, however, did not offer clarity on issues surrounding the angel tax much to the dismay of the industry’s expectations. Facilitating a conducive growth environment for such companies is key and hence, clarity around taxation and the regulatory environment will further help build a strong technology ecosystem which can contribute to the government’s vision of India as a $5 trillion economy over the next 5 years.

It is probably for the first time in several years that the entertainment industry has been hailed as a force of employment generation. While the Finance Minister has offered incentives to the film industry, it is also worth recognising the huge scope that live entertainment offers, for employment and growth of the Indian economy. We hope that the GST Council along with the government can find solutions to streamline the existing tax structures for this sector as well and bring it below the current rate of 28% to enable a well-rounded ecosystem.

We whole-heartedly support the government’s move to curb piracy through the introduction of the anti-camcording provision in the Cinematography Act. With these measures, we expect the regulatory framework of the entertainment industry to significantly change for the better.


Rajnish Kumar, CTO & Co-founder, ixigo

The new national scheme announced by the government on AI is a futuristic scheme which will promote the use of technology and digitisation. The government’s efforts in providing the necessary AI support required by start-ups further emphasises the role that new technologies will play in the development of the economy. Efforts to establish 1 lakh digital villages is also a positive step towards strengthening digital penetration in rural India and will significantly increase the adoption of digital platforms across masses.


Jigar Zatakia, Founder & CEO, FirstEconomy 

Target to digitise 5 lakh villages over the next 5 years should provide added impetus to the government’s vision of "minimum government maximum governance". This will give digital marketers like us an opportunity to reach the untapped markets and customer base who has been difficult to reach to, and help us deliver better ROIs on the investment done by brands. The Startup India Program continues to motivate the youth to become job providers rather than job seekers which has made India the second largest hub for start-ups. While the macro picture does look very attractive, on the micro front, while we are happy with the 5% relief in the income tax to MSME's we were expecting some relief on the 6% equalization levy that we need to pay on all payments  done to foreign publishers which hasn't come in. All in all the present Govt in its Robinhood avatar seems to have belied public expectation of a vote on account budget by transforming it into a surgical strike on high tax rates that our country has been struggling with for years" 

Arun Gupta, Founder and CEO, MoMAGIC Technologies 

The national programme on AI by the Indian government is the right direction to create grass root level interest among Indian techies. With Big Data and analytics, AI will play a key role in several areas including retail, logistics, pharma, e-commerce and security etc. We also foresee AI tech to push the AdTech Setor and in turn the digital marketing and mobile marketing.

Siddharth Hegde, MD, Ethinos Digital Marketing

This is a positive Budget from digital perspective and clearly the government is determined not only on delivering on its current promises but also delivering on its promise of a complete digital revolution in India. The 10-point agenda for 2030 and the set-up of digital villages is going to drive digital inclusion. The low data costs are going to drive more for the rural population online and we are likely to see an explosion in vernacular content. This is also likely to give marketers an option to have a more measurable pipe to the rural masses. This Budget is a great start.

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CNN to mark #MyFreedomDay to create awareness about modern-day slavery

The student-driven social media event will be held on March 14

freedom day

CNN’s #MyFreedomDay, a student-driven social media event, aimed at raising awareness of modern-day slavery will be marked on March 14. 

Driving this year’s #MyFreedomDay is: ‘What makes you feel free?’ CNN has asked youngsters to share their responses via text, photo or video across social media using #MyFreedomDay hashtag.

Last year, students from more than 100 countries had taken part in the event. The #MyFreedomDay hashtag had got 1.4 billion global Twitter impressions and 20 million Instagram timelines. 

This year, the event looks to be even bigger with CNN correspondents reporting from schools all over the world, including Poland, Hong Kong, Kenya, South Korea, Lebanon, the UK and the US. The special coverage will kick off at 11pm IST on March 13 with an half-hour special hosted by Zain Asher continuing through March 14 with a special #MyFreedomDay edition of CNN Talk at 5.30pm IST and live reports from participating schools throughout the day. 

CNN will also showcase what these students, schools and communities are doing to fight slavery on Facebook, @CNNFreedom on Twitter and Instagram and at CNN.com/myfreedom. 
 

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FreakOut and Mobile Action announce strategic alliance

Through this tactical partnership, FreakOut will deliver app marketing optimisation to agencies and developers worldwide

FreakOut MobileAction

FreakOut, the global marketing technology company, part of FreakOut Holdings, has announced a strategic alliance with Mobile Action, a San Francisco-based App Store Optimisation (ASO) and Mobile App Intelligence platform that specialises in app marketing for brand marketers.

Through this tactical partnership, FreakOut is set to deliver an advanced search optimisation solution powered by ‘SearchAds.com’, an Apple Search Ads dashboard, as well as comprehensive market intelligence to app marketers, developers and agencies around the globe. To underpin its ASO capability, Mobile Action possesses application market data of 65 countries worldwide, and is used in more than 160,000 applications including world-leading enterprises such as adidas, eBay, Groupon, Hilton, Macy's, Playtika, Reuters, Yahoo!, Zynga, etc. 

According to Apple, 70 per cent of app discovery comes from searches and therefore premium positioning in search results can greatly improve an app’s ‘discoverability’ which is the #1 download generating factor. ASO helps to bring in organic traffic of users who display a higher retention rate. ASO also provides the most long lasting and steady growth trajectory for an app’s business by increasing rankings gradually. 

As a result of this alliance, FreakOut makes its foray into the field of app search advertising and gets exclusive rights to deliver ‘SearchAds.com’ to its clients. Both companies have a shared vision to empower app marketers and agencies with optimal ways to improve their ASO strategies, by offering AI-based real-time bid optimisation technology and mobile app analytics intelligence which allows clients to quickly analyse their competitor’s paid ad campaigns on different ad networks. 

Yuzuru Honda, Founder & Global CEO, FreakOut Holdings Inc. said, “We are excited to be partnering with Mobile Action to make their platform available to our clients in Asia. With the full resources of both FreakOut and Mobile Action, we enhance each other's business and continue adding value to our clients.”

Both players have strengthened their respective platforms by aligning complementary technology and are now able to provide comprehensive support to application companies targeting global expansion. As a result of this partnership, FreakOut gains access to UK, US and Canada markets, while Mobile Action can leverage FreakOut’s APAC network. Furthermore, FreakOut’s established inbound and outbound cross border business that are specifically focused on app and gaming markets like Japan, South Korea, Russia and China will be further strengthened by the capabilities that SearchAds.com brings onboard.

Narayan Murthy Ivaturi, Chief Operating Officer, FreakOut Adtech Business, said, “There are a suite of strengths including people, products, capabilities, etc. that both Mobile Action and FreakOut bring to the table in this mutually beneficial alliance. There are also a host of business areas where we can tactically synergize. This is a very exciting time for both our companies. Together we aim to take things to the next level in this fast moving digital advertising industry, and support the rapid globalization of application companies.”

Aykut Karaalioglu, Founder and CEO, Mobile Action,“APAC region is of a great importance to us. We have been analysing what’s the best strategy to execute and during that time we came across FreakOut. That’s the best company in the region to partner with. We are already helping SMB to Enterprise all over North America and Europe. Now, with new offering such as SearchAds.com |Apple Search Ads automation and management platform, it will be key solution for acquiring new users. My team and I are super excited to work with FreakOut’s talented team members.” 

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The Viral Fever launches An MX Original Series - ImMature

ImMature earned critical acclaim when it became India’s first-ever and only series to be nominated for CanneSeries at the Cannes International Series Festival 2018

ImMature

The Viral Fever (TVF) will now extend its footprint to provide content across different platforms, kick-starting with An MX Original Series - ImMature. This endearing series will stream for free, starting 20th February on MX Player, the world’s largest local video player and a leading streaming platform. With a thriving community of fans across India, TVF has built a repute for having a finger on the pulse of what moves the Indian audience. After gaining critical acclaim and audience appreciation for unique and viral content across key channels, Girliyapa, The Timeliners, The Screen Patti and TVF Qtiyapa, TVF will now not only create content for its own service TVFPlay, but will also partner with independent VoD Services to grow the ecosystem.

ImMature, a 5-episode coming-of-age series, has been created by TVF’s Chief Content Officer Sameer Saxena, directed by Prem Mistry and written by Abhishek Yadav, Suprith Kundar and Nishaad Javeri. ImMature earned critical acclaim when it became India’s first-ever and only series to be nominated for CanneSeries (Top 10 Web-Series) at the prestigious Cannes International Series Festival 2018. The series revolves around the life of a 16-year old Dhruv, who is eagerly waiting to experience everything that adulthood has to offer. The show tackles poignant moments of growing up with sensitivity while adding a touch of humour to the typical dilemmas of a teenage boy.

Karan Chaudhry, President & COO – The Viral Fever, “At TVF, our focus is to create innovative and memorable content that resonates with our audiences. ImMature already created ripples last year by being the first Indian show to be nominated at the CanneSeries and I’m certain that once launched on MX Player, people will enjoy the show as much as we enjoyed making it.”

Speaking about the association, Karan Bedi – CEO, MX Player said, “Catering to a wide base of over 75 million daily active users, our aim is to offer viewers engaging content that cuts through the noise. Our association with TVF adds a different flavor to our existing slate of original programming, thereby creating entertainment choices for every palette on our platform.”

ImMature also marks the best of what TVF has to offer, both, in terms of cast and creators. The series stars Omkar Kulkarni, Rashmi Agdekar, Chinmay Chandraunshuh, Vissesh Tiwari along with popular personalities, Jitendra Kumar, Nidhi Bisht, Sameer Saxena, Nidhi Singh, Badri Chavan and Anandeshwar Dwivedi. The original series will also have 8 soundtracks created keeping the premise and emotions of the show, composed by TVF’s Vaibhav Bundhoo.

Experience the many firsts in Dhruv’s life with An MX Player Original ImMature, a TVF Creation.

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ShemarooMe is for fans who are unabashedly Indian: Hiren Gada, Shemaroo Entertainment

Gada, CEO of Shemaroo Entertainment talks about how ShemarooMe will set itself apart from the rest of the OTT content & his plans to pool in brands 

hiren gada

The launch of the new OTT platform ‘ShemarooMe’ is a salute to the spirit of the ‘Asli Bollywood Fan’, as the content powerhouse would like to call it. 

In a chat with exchange4media, Shemaroo CEO Hiren Gada will cater to the audience who don’t find the kind of content they want to view on OTT platforms. He also shared his big plans for Shemaroo’s new baby ShemarooMe.

Excerpts:

What is the objective behind starting ShemarooMe?

According to a Google-KPMG 2017 report, 75 per cent of India’s internet user base will consist of internet users from Indian regional languages by 2021. The number of smartphone users in the country is also expected to cross 440 million by 2022. And India is a heterogeneous market, so it is unlikely that everyone will have similar taste. The OTT market is still new and it has scope for multiple service providers. With ShemarooMe we will cater to the crowd that is already on OTT but still on the lookout for something. There are larger players in the OTT market but then there is the scope to bring in a lot of new content segment and that is exactly what we want to do.

While we understand that OTT is only a new proposition in the Indian content market, we already have a lot of options on the table. How is ShemarooMe planning to set itself apart from the rest?

No matter how much we love Pizza and Pasta we love to come back to our staple daal roti at the end of the day. ShemarooMe is for all those fans who are unabashedly Indian. We are doing everything we can for the real fan of masala Indian entertainment and that is our unique selling proposition. At the end of the day, the viewers are our patrons and we want to keep them in the centre for everything. ShemarooMe aims to put the viewer in a familiar territory and serve them what they want. This touch of personalisation is what we are hoping will set us apart.

Tell us a little about the content line-up.

We have six broad categories: Bollywood classics and contemporary Bollywood, and the Gujarati segment that include telefilms and theatre. We also have other categories for Punjabi, Devotional and Kids content.

We have a library of 2,000 feature films half of which is already up and the rest will be up soon.

At a time when OTT platforms are boasting about the kind of original content they are producing, you are keeping your hands of it. Why is that?

We have not ruled that out totally. We might come up with it in our second phase. We are open to feedback from consumers. Whatever they ask for will be incorporated as and when we get older and have a better hang of our audience.

But we do have our version of created content. We created two shows called ‘Cinema ka Safar’ and ‘Pehli Baar’. ‘Cinema ka Safar’, anchored by Renuka Shahane, is a 22-episode ensemble of the history of Bollywood. ‘Pehli Baar’, on the other hand, is a 100-episode format that will put together all the firsts in the industry. Such unique content point is also one of our USPs.

Are you looking at any brand partnerships?

We are just starting out, but going forward the plan is to launch ShemarooMe in the US market in the first quarter of FY20. We will be expanding our OTT distribution through strategic partnerships, to offer exciting content across multiple platforms catering to the target audience. So we definitely plan to pool in brands for partnerships and associations.

You have a subscription-based model. Do you plan to get into the ad-based model too?

Consumers have the option to buy individual packs or the all-access pack of ShemarooMe. The introductory pricing for individual category plans is Rs 49 per month or Rs 499 annually. The all-access plan costs Rs 99 a month or Rs 999 for a year.

In our second phase we do plan to introduce an ad-driven category. But as of now we are primarily a subscription based model platform. 
 

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T-Series ventures into digital space; to produce web-series & web-films

The new venture will be headed by Vinod Bhanushali, who is currently the President- Media, Marketing, Publishing (TV) and Music Acquisitions at T-Series

TSeries

After proving to be the leader of the music industry and establishing themselves a successful film studio, T-Series is all set to enter the digital space with web series and web films. Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series along with producing films and music videos have ventured out into locking scripts for web-shows and web-films. With the growing demand for digital content, the production house has decided to expand their avenues and explore a new, yet familiar territory of digital space. The new venture will be headed by, Vinod Bhanushali, who is currently the President- Media, Marketing, Publishing (TV) and Music Acquisitions at T-Series.

Speaking on the expansion, T-Series head, Bhushan Kumar says, “This is the time to expand into digital space with shows and films. There exists a huge audience across the globe that you reach out to with this medium. Web-shows and web-films have an audience for all kinds of genres of storytelling and different languages as well. Along with producing films, we want to create content for digital space and give a platform for new directors and storytellers.”

Bhanushali, who has worked with T-Series for around two decades, along with his team has already started working on scripts and pre-production of a few series and films. T-Series is already working with digital platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Zee5 and other such platforms for digital distribution of their home productions.

Speaking on his new role, Vinod Bhanushali, says, “Digital viewership is growing at a rapid speed and is a huge platform that needed to be tapped by us. Web shows and films have their own set of audience and are a huge market as everyone – all ages, races, languages, communities across the world are hooked on to it. There are some stories that are not meant for the 70mm screen yet they are needed to be told. They are commercial yet strong content films. With a new space that has evolved, web-shows and web-films have become a huge demand which is tested and proven to be successful. We have a lot of scripts coming to us every day and many of them are a perfect fit for this medium. We want to give a chance to these storytellers to bring forth their stories. T-Series will now become a platform to produce these stories and associate with our existing digital platforms to release our content.”

Music has always been an important aspect of all T-Series films. Even with the new space which will explore fiction, non-fiction stories on a digital platform, music will still be a very integral part.

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ZEE5 turns one with 56.3mn users, announces 72 originals across 6 languages by March 2020

The regional market is where the future of entertainment lies, says Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5

ZEE5

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited’s OTT platform ZEE5 completed one year on Thursday. According to Tarun Katial, CEO at ZEE5, it has the right mix of content, technology and brand associations that has kept the digital entertainment platform stay ahead of competition.

 

With a 56.3 million user base at the moment, Zee5 is targeting to touch 100 million in the new fiscal. Focus on the right kind of the content is the top priority for ZEE5 at the moment, Katial said.

 

“We have got everyone from Sunny Leone, to Emraan Hashmi, Kunal Kemmu to now Arjun Rampal and many more debuts on digital with us. Since it is our first year, the star cast has helped us to draw attention. We plan to continue with the trend but build our base strong enough in terms of original content so that star cast is not the only attraction of these productions,” Katial said.

 

On their first anniversary which was also Valentine’s Day, ZEE5 announced the world digital premiere of ‘Kedarnath’. Not just films, there are plans for a host of original content too. To start with, 72 new originals have been planned across six languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam and all before March 2020.

 

In its anniversary month, ZEE5 has also announced ‘The Final Call’ that premiers on February 22 and stars Arjun Rampal, in his digital debut. Based on Priya Kumar’s book, ‘I will go with you’, the thriller also stars Sakshi Tanwar and Jaaved Jaaferi.

 

However, it is not just Hindi that ZEE is concentrating on. Katial said, “The regional market is where the future of entertainment lies – our next viewers will come from there. We are cognizant of this and are building an ecosystem to add more value to our stakeholders in these markets.”

 

“We are taking the originals beyond Hindi and this is what sets us apart from others on the segment. We will be launching ‘Sharate Aaj’, a Bengali original that is shot completely in London. Also lined up for February are Tamil originals like ‘D7’ and ‘Kalavu’, Malayalam originals like ‘Mirror' and ‘Aarpoo’ as well as Marathi original ‘Sex, Drugs and Theatre’. ZEE5 Originals, ‘Rangbaaz’ and the Marathi show ‘Date with Saie’ are now also available in Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Kannada, Marathi and Malayalam,’ he added.

 

Kunal Kemmu has also made his digital debut with crime thriller ‘Abhay’ that took off on ZEE5 on February 7.

The platform also has Pakistani, Turkish and Korean content lined up as acquired content. New genres of content are also on the cards for ZEE5. Video news section is one new genre that the platform is already working on. A music video section is also on the cards for the new fiscal.

 

Alongside the content line-up, ZEE5 is also looking at maximum technology integration. While 11 navigational languages, content download option and voice search are some of the technology already implemented on the platform, there is more in store for the new fiscal.

 

“We plan to use more of Artificial Intelligence. We have already started AI led auto preview of content on our web platform and soon we’d do that for our app too,” added Katial.

 

To celebrate the anniversary, ZEE5 has also launched a special 30 per cent discount on both annual packs – all access pack would be available at Rs 999 and regional pack at Rs 499. The discounted rates are available between February 14 and March 31.

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Shemaroo launches OTT platform, ShemarooMe

The platform will offer Indian video content across Bollywood, Gujarati, Devotion, Punjabi and Kids genre

SheamrooMe

Shemaroo Entertainment Limited has launched its Over the Top platform ShemarooMe. The platform was launched in Mumbai in the presence of actor Tiger Shroff.

The company in a statement said, “ShemarooMe is a comprehensive app for the Indian market with a diverse and exclusive content offering for an audience looking for Indian video content across Bollywood, Gujarati, Devotion, Punjabi, and Kids genre to cater to the needs of all age groups.”

“ShemarooMe aims to celebrate the fans who cherish the opportunity to watch their favourite content over and over again, relishing every dialogue and memorising every scene till it's etched in their hearts. It aims to address the needs of the everyday Indian from across the country who are comfortable in their native language and connect with their intrinsic taste of masala content that they have built over years,” the statement mentioned.

According to a Google-KPMG 2017 report, 75% of India’s internet user base will consist of Indian language internet users by 2021. It goes on to mention that India which had nearly 300 million smartphone users in 2017 is only going to have larger growth prospect with the number expected to cross 440 million by 2022.

ShemarooMe aims to reach out to these masses even beyond metros whose content preferences are not limited to the niche English speaking consumer. With customised offerings on the slate, ShemarooMe will suit the different content preferences of every Indian. It will have seven distinct categories on offer - Bollywood Classic, Bollywood Plus, Gujarati, Kids, Bhakti, Ibaadat and Punjabi and will give consumers the freedom to pick and choose the categories of content and pay for them separately.

Speaking on the occasion, Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment, said, “This is a big leap for Shemaroo. As a company, we have always understood the real pulse of the Indian audience and our history is a testimony to that. While Bollywood - both classic and contemporary - is our core strength, we aim to bring a rich and diverse offering far beyond that for the underserved consumers and definitely do more to sustain the nostalgia economy.”

Tiger Shroff added, “Shemaroo has been an indispensable part of my childhood and growing years. As a child, I remember watching the movies I’ve loved watching over and over again. Today, I am happy that Shemaroo now gives me the opportunity to watch my all-time favourite Bollywood movies. I am a true-blue Bollywood fan and ShemarooMe is a tribute to the asli fan across India. Shemaroo has a grip on the pulse of the Indian consumers and can cater to the demands of every generation with its never-ending list of rich content and I am super excited to be present here.”

Zubin Dubash, COO, Digital, Shemaroo Entertainment Limited, said, “Through ShemarooMe, we wish to pamper Indians with great content that can be watched over and over again. Great content needs greater technology. Our content is offered on a state-of-art, robust platform, with a road map of features to woo our audiences. From live to linear to VOD content, we have all forms of consumption options available for our customers. We will be expanding our OTT distribution through strategic partnerships, to offer exciting content across multiple platforms catering to the target audience and we do hope this is cherished by our audiences who have supported us for over 55 years!”

Consumers have the option to buy individual packs piece meal or the all access pack of ShemarooMe. Introductory pricing Individual category plans cost - Rs. 49/ month or Rs. 499/ year. The All access plans cost Rs. 99/ month or Rs. 999/ year.

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PhonePe now live on Dream11

As part of the partnership, Dream11 users will get a 30% cashback offer from PhonePe

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Payment platform PhonePe has entered into a partnership with Dream11. As part of the association, PhonePe is live and first to offer direct UPI payments solution on the Dream11 platform. The users will also be able to avail a 30% cashback* on 3 transactions up-to INR 75 on using PhonePe as a payment option on the Dream11 app, the company said in a statement.

Commenting on the partnership, Ankit Gaur, Director – Online Business, PhonePe, said, “We are very excited to partner with Dream 11, the country’s biggest sports game. Over the last few years, Dream11 has seen phenomenal growth with a constantly growing user base. The next few months will see some of the biggest cricket tournaments including the much-awaited World Cup 2019 and the Indian Premier League (IPL), among others. There will be huge interest in fantasy cricket on Dream11 during this period and with this association, we are hoping to create a more seamless and hassle-free experience for the users allowing them to pay using their preferred payment solution, PhonePe.”

Commenting on the partnership, Bhavit Sheth, Co-Founder and COO of Dream11, said, “We are happy to partner with PhonePe as it is a rapidly growing payment platform with over 150 million users. This partnership is in line with our commitment to provide trustworthy, hassle-free and multiple payment options, like UPI, for our users along with cashback benefits.” 

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FB ropes in ex-journalist Natasha Jog as election integrity lead for India: Reports

New Delhi-based Jog will report to Katie Harbath, Facebook’s public policy director, global elections, say media reports

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Facebook has reportedly hired former journalist Natasha Jog as its election integrity lead for India. The social media giant is said to have chosen Jog after nearly four months of sarch process.

According to media reports, New Delhi-based Jog will report to Katie Harbath, Facebook’s public policy director, global elections. 

According to her LinkedIn profile, Jog was employed with NDTV for more than 18 years, across various roles. 

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MX Player launches trailer of Original Series ‘Aafat’

The show streams for free starting 20th February only on MX Player

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Five beautiful girls with five unusual eccentricities and one common problem – being stereotyped! That’s what MX Original Series ‘Aafat’ is all about! MX Player brings viewers this web series that is a hilarious yet thought provoking take on arranged marriages and what society perceives to be “perfect bride” material.

The series stars Chitrashi Rawat, Pushtiie Shakti, Nikita Dutta, Anshul Chauhan, Neelam Sivia, Sidharth Bhardwaj and Seema Pahwa in key roles and is directed by Shanhant Shah. The show streams for free starting 20th February only on MX Player.

Aafat is the story of five prospective women who would suit for any man on Earth but each of these firebrands has a unique quirk that many believe to be imperfections. Their lives run parallel to each other with a common thread attached - the boy who they are meeting from a marriage agency. Ayesha (Anshul Chauhan) is a successful voice-over artist but she’s NEVER waxed her body. Anu (Neelam Sivia) is India’s modern young woman who works as a coder in an MNC. But, she’s bald! Faiza (Chitrashri Rawat) has a way with words, she is an aspiring poet but one with really colourful language. Aditi (Shakti) holds an MBA degree and is born with a silverspoon but she is overweight. Titli (Nikita Dutta) is a talented entrepreneur but her scorecard is flawed as she is a divorcee.

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