Cheap thrills: Zee5 takes on Netflix with mobile-only packs at lower rates

netflix, bharti airtel, ott, zee5

Following Netflix’s plan to test mobile-only packs at lower subscription rates, Zee Entertainment Enterprises-owned OTT platform Zee5 is also working on a similar approach.

Zee5 India business head Manish Aggarwal told FE, “The packs will be up to 30% cheaper than the standard ones. They are currently in the testing phase”.

Analysts said that the advantage of having mobile-only packs is that they can be bundled with telcos plan and marketed in a much more effective manner. For instance, Zee5 has a bundling pact with all the three major telecom operators — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea. Subscribers in these cases do not have to pay a separate subscription charge for accessing Zee5 content.

Netflix currently has a bundling pact only with Bharti Airtel.

Such telco-OTT pacts are increasingly becoming popular and turning into one-stop places for consumers to view all content as they then do not have to download the individual OTT apps.

Even the OTT companies find dealing with telcos attractive. The reason is that telcos make it attractive to consumers to use their apps.

Telcos also act as an aggregator of content in their own apps and sometimes follow an app-in-app model. From the perspective of OTTs, telcos pay them a pre-decided fee; they get fast access to customers; and they do not have to advertise, as telcos spend on advertising.

Though Aggarwal did not share any details, industry executives said that mobile-only packs will be different from standard packs in the sense that they maybe stripped down version of original.

Such packs though will have greater reach because the number of smartphone subscribers in the country at around 500 million is much higher than DTH/cable subscribers or Internet users.

Zee5 currently offers monthly plan for Rs 99 and its annual plan costs Rs 999. It also has regional packs (Tamil, Telugu and Kannada) that cost Rs 49 a month and Rs 499 a year.

Netflix, which has notched about a million subscribers in the country out of its nearly 150 million subscribers globally, is also testing its mobile-only plans starting at Rs 65 per week and Rs 250 per month. Netflix’s management recently said that low priced mobile-only offerings will “be important to adding members in India”.


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