Anirban Roy Choudhury

ZEE5 creates a special subscription pack - 'Radhe Combo offer' to "generate more trials"

Salman Khan's film 'Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai' will release on the platform; ZEE5's Manish Kalra says the price of the pack is kept at Rs 499 to "stay true to Indian sensibilities."

From Cola brands to Elaichi and Pan Masala or shows like Bigg Boss, get Salman Khan at it sells. Taking a punt on brand Salman Khan is ZEE5.

One of the largest digital video-on-demand platforms in India ZEE5 has announced the launch of "Radhe Combo Offer". 'Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai' is a Salman Khan starter action-drama film that will release on the occasion of 'Eid' (May 13) 2021.

The producers and distributors announced that it will be a multi-platform worldwide release. On the same day, at the same time, the film will be available in theatres wherever the halls are allowed to open and on ZEE5 and ZEEPlex which is ZEE's platform where one can rent a movie and pay-per-view.

The 'Radhe Combo Offer' is available for Rs 499. "We wanted it to be a value driver," says Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 India. The Rs 499 ‘Radhe Combo Offer’ will allow consumers to watch the Salman Khan starrer, 'Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai' on ZEE5 with ZEEPlex, along with access to ZEE5 originals, movies, TV Shows, Live TV, ALTBalaji shows, Ad-free Catch-up TV, Zindagi TV shows, kids content for one year.

ZEE5 creates a special subscription pack - 'Radhe Combo offer' to "generate more trials"

This pack is normally priced at Rs 1,248 which also includes access to up to three screens. ZEE5's competitors in the market, Disney+Hotstar's yearly premium pack is priced at Rs 1,499 while Netflix's monthly plan ranges up to Rs 799. By making itself available at Rs 499 per year, ZEE5 wants to increase the number of trials. "Irrespective of what others are charging, we wanted to stay true to the Indian sensibilities and target the large middle class and the mass fan base of Salman Khan franchise," Kalra explains the rationale behind pricing.

The pack, according to Kalra, aims to reward the viewers of ZEE5 and the fans of Salman Khan fans. "One option was to give them a pay-per-view option. But we realised that pay per view is very transactional in nature and does not let the user consume the big library of ZEE5. So, we decided to roll out a special pack," shares Kalra.

Films, according to experts in the industry, are a tool for the OTT platforms to acquire subscribers. The cost of acquisition per subscriber is estimated to be around Rs 250. To get the rights of theatrical releases involving top stars, the OTT players dish out somewhere between Rs 50 crore and Rs 100 crore. Analysts say such investment on content is only viable if the platforms are able to retain the acquired customers. It is practically impossible for a platform to drop a new Salman Khan movie every six months in order to keep them on the platform.

That is where the width and depth of the library come in handy, believes Kalra. He asserts ZEE5 has inked deals to release 50+ theatricals across diverse languages on the platform. Alongside that there are 40+ Originals (shows) slated for the year. The platform claims it already has 4000 + movies, 200+ originals and 50+ News Channels in its offering.

The chief business officer of ZEE5 feels a movie like Salman Khan's 'Radhe' is likely to have the most following in the NCR followed by UP, Bihar, and also parts of South. "There are 500 million users in India using 4G. Radhe Combo Offer is targeted to all of them and subscriptions can come from everywhere," Kalra adds.

The digital video on demand platforms saw a spike in consumption after the country went under a lockdown in 2020. It is the same time when consumers started evolving opines Kalra. Because more people were working from home and children were schooling from indoors, a high-speed internet connection became a necessity which earlier was looked at as a luxury. This changed the way, the content is consumed.

While earlier most video consumption used to happen on hand-held devices, since last year, the behaviour started changing. "60 - 65 per cent of the subscriber-viewership now is on smart television sets or big screens," informs Kalra. When it comes to films, the number can go higher, he adds.

ZEE5 is going to use Print, Digital, and Television to promote the 'Radhe Combo Offer'. The goal is to get as many people to try ZEE5 after paying Rs 499 for the first year. The challenge, however, would be to get the new subscribers to renew by paying the actual subscription fee.

While the lockdown brought a wave of new customers to OTT, it also exposed the loopholes. Last summer, ZEE5 had an error popping up, "Reached maximum users" each time the subscribers wanted to watch something on the platform. Reportedly, it happened due to a sudden spike in the number of viewers. Again most parts of the country is under partial lockdowns while some states have a total ban on outdoor movement for non-essential purposes. In such a scenario the number of views can witness another sudden spike.

The release of 'Radhe' on Eid can also cause a spike, will that result to another tech glitch? "All of us are learning. As a platform, product, or technology we are all geared up," Kalra concludes.