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Zee5 sees growth in users in Q2, but losses pile up

Zee5, the on-demand digital content service by Zee Entertainment, had 54.7 global million monthly active users, and 5.2 million global daily active users in the September 2020 quarter, as per figures revealed in Zee Entertainment’s quarterly earnings report. The service saw a sequential increase in both these metrics — it had 39.7 million MAUs, and 4 million DAUs in the June quarter.

Zee5’s revenue for the September quarter stood at ₹98.9 crore, up 4.2% over last quarter, when it had raked in a revenue of ₹94.9 crore. However, losses stood at ₹189.4 crore, an increase of 30.5% over the June quarter. In the September quarter, users spent an average of 152 minutes per month on Zee5, a 36% increase over both last year and last quarter.

Can Zee5 break-even in the next 2 years?

When asked whether Zee5 would break-even by FY23, Punit Goenka, CEO of Zee Entertainment said it was “double edged sword”, and that it was “difficult to say”. “We’ll still focus that in FY24 we exit the year with a breakeven kind of number, but that could be delayed by a year,” Goenka said during a call with investors on Monday. He also said that the company will heavily invest in Zee5, and the platform has certainly not peaked.

When an investor asked the reason behind a sequential revenue growth of just a little above 4%, Goenka said that “one of the telco deals came to an end and we did not renew that”, and as a result, the platform had to recoup some of the losses there by selling subscriptions directly to consumers. Goenka was presumably referring to the content deal between Zee5 and Vodafone Idea on-demand video service Vi Movies and TV, as Zee5 content is no longer available on the platform.

The same investor also asked the kind of user data the platform has access to when it onboards a user via a partner platform, such as Vodafone Idea’s, as opposed to acquiring them directly on the Zee5 app, Goenka said that in terms of telco deals, the data is restricted. However, direct to consumer deals, “the data we get is very rich and much better from a monetisation perspective”.

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Another investor asked the possible reason behind the growth in viewership on Zee5, and Goenka said that a significant part of that viewership was organic. When asked about monetisation strategies for international markets, he said that those strategies vary from market to market depending on the revenue collected from each user, and overall consumption. “We intend to monetise on both subscription and ads for international, it is currently being planned and will be executed later on,” Goenka added.

Zee’s domestic subscription business grew 2.3% over last year, and the company said this increase was primarily driven by growth in Zee5 subscription revenues. Zee5 released 25 original shows and movies in the last three months, and Goenka said that with lockdown restrictions lifting, shooting of original content has resumed.

The platform also launched HiPi — a short video platform, after initially launching a beta version of the service in the June quarter. HiPi is among the several short video platforms to be launched after TikTok’s ban in India, although Zee did not give out any specific numbers for the service’s usage. Its biggest competitors are Sharechat’s Moj, Times’ MX TakaTak, and inMobi’s Roposo, among others.

Financial snapshot

  • Profit after tax: ₹94 crore, down 77.2% YoY
  • Operating revenue: ₹1722.7 crore, down 18.8% YoY
  • EBITDA: ₹313.6 crore, down 54.7% YoY

Downloads: Financials

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