Benita Chacko

"Subscription is the key revenue driver for ShemarooMe": Hiren Gada

As part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, Shemaroo Entertainment intends to remake six of its popular IPs into films and web series.

From being a book-circulating library, to doing content aggregation and distribution for television platforms, to now having three TV channels and an OTT platform. Mumbai-based Shemaroo Entertainment has traversed across mediums over its six decades of existence.

The company that generated a revenue of Rs 381.4 crore in FY22 wants to strengthen its consumer-facing roots in its 60th year.

"In the initial decades of our existence, we were a B2C organisation. Then, when our aggregation and syndication businesses started growing, we became more B2B, as we were partnering with various companies that were building their business. In 2018, we decided that if we have to move the business forward, we have to reconnect with the consumers," Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment, tells afaqs!.

In order to be more consumer-oriented, the company reset its logo, and launched OTT app ShemarooMe as well as three TV channels.

As a part of its 60th year celebrations, Shemaroo Entertainment now intends to remake six of its IPs into films and web series. It has partnered with OTT platforms to release this content over the next 12-24 months. Some of its popular IPs include Amar Akbar Anthony, Beta, Paapi Gudiya and Jab We Met.

“These old movies will be retold with modern context. They will be exciting and engaging at the core, and help us connect with the young audience,” mentions Gada.

He talks about his plans for the three TV channels, the OTT app and vision for the platform.

After launching Shemaroo TV and MarathiBana in 2020, Shemaroo Entertainment recently launched Umang, its third free-to-air (FTA) channel. A women-centric Hindi GEC, it is available on DD Free Dish.

"TV advertising is a significant opportunity overall, in terms of both scale and growth. We saw that FTA is probably a good entry strategy, as well as an opportunity to build consumer traction and loyalty," reveals Gada.

"TV advertising is a significant opportunity overall, in terms of both scale and growth."

He sees more potential in FTA channels due to a significant number of TV dark homes. According to a 2020 survey by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), 210 million Indian households own a TV set, a rise of 6.9 per cent from 197 million in 2018. The number of people watching TV has also seen a rise of 6.7 per cent, reaching 892 million from 836 million in 2018.

"The entry point for people, in terms of buying their first TV sets in these TV dark homes, would be through FTA. So, that is where we look to connect with those audiences," mentions Gada.

The channel intends to create more fresh content, going forward. “As the FTA platform grows, and audience taste preferences mature and evolve, some amount of fresh creation, combined with pre-existing shows, is going to be a theme for most of the players,” adds Gada.

On the OTT front, the entertainment company launched ShemarooMe in 2019. The platform offers Bollywood films, Gujarati content, etc. It has about 500 feature length titles and adds one every week.

It has witnessed more subscription revenue than ad revenue, and has allocated more spends to promote its SVoD business. “For all the key premium players, the aim would be to build their subscription revenue. It provides not only predictability, but also a great connection with the final audience. The key focus for us is subscription. Our whole approach is to bring in the SVoD subscriber,” says Gada.

"Subscription revenue not only provides predictability, but also a great connection with the final audience."

FTA offers a great platform for brands, which are targeting mass markets/spectrum of consumers. Brands that are reaching out to aspirational audiences, also make use of the platform.

Shemaroo Entertainment will be investing Rs 50 crore in new initiatives, including TV channels Shemaroo TV, MarathiBana and Umang, and OTT app ShemarooMe. More than 50 per cent of the investments will go into the broadcast business. This will go towards creating content, as well as aggregating and acquiring content.

In FY22, Shemaroo raked in Rs 181 crore through its digital properties and Rs 200 crore from its traditional properties. There are four sources of digital revenue.

First is YouTube, Facebook and other ad-supported platforms. Second is through its OTT platform ShemarooMe. Third is telecom, and fourth is through syndication, where it partners with different platforms for content requirements. The largest revenue chunk, more than 50 per cent, comes from YouTube.

“As the Internet subscriber base grows, we will have more video consumers. The regional language preferences of these consumers will be growing because newer set of consumers will come from regional pockets, with sharper regional consumption preferences,” Gada signs off.

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