Exclusive: We’ve created a level playing field for digital film distribution in India – Zubin Dubash, COO-Digital, Shemaroo Entertainment


MediaBrief.com caught up with Zubin Dubash, COO-Digital, Shemaroo Entertainment to find out how the desi platform has been providing audiences the content that is not only entertaining but also makes ‘India Khush’. In this exclusive rendezvous Zubin Dubash spoke about Shemaroo Entertainment’s new verticle ShemarooMe Box Office, the strategies they have adopted to break through the clutter, how they have braved through the pandemic and much more.

Tell us More about ShemarooMe Box Office, when was it launched and how was it received by viewers, consumers?

ShemarooMe Box Office stems from a vision to create an ecosystem for the Indian film industry amidst a time when people cannot step out and go to the theatres. The platform is launched to especially promote low and medium budget movies lacking the means or platform to showcase their work and generate revenues

While digital viewership has increased during the lockdown, the restrictions on production and theatre screenings left a lot of producers in a limbo. Hence, we have created a system which allows digital movie releases to level the playing field through a pay per view model, which is being done in India for the first time

ShemarooMe Box Office follows a Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD) service for new movie releases which will enable our consumers to enjoy a theatrical experience at home.

The past few months have seen the entertainment industry go through drastic changes in the way content is created and consumed.

Adapting to this new, unprecedented change, our unique platform will present fresh and high-quality content every week.

We have launched three movies so far and have received a positive response from our consumers, but this being a recent launch, it is too soon to divulge the exact numbers

What differentiates ShemarooMe Box Office from other OTT platforms providing similar services?

The services we offer with ShemarooMe Box Office are in fact closest to the theatrical experience than any OTT player

Our partnership with BookMyShow aims to cater to movie lovers and cine goers who miss going to the theaters to catch up on the latest releases and keep the entertainment rolling in even these tough times.

Another factor which makes our platform very appealing to consumers is that they don’t have to subscribe to our app to catch these releases. Since we are using a pay-per-view model, consumers don’t need to subscribe to the whole platform only to watch one movie.

makes it a lot more economical, and gives a choice to the consumer to buy tickets for the ShemarooMe Box Office Release and also buy a subscription of our rich content offering.

What are ShemarooMe Box Office’s plans for expansion in this vertical?

Our aim is to be a democratic platform giving all mid to small budget films in all languages a common platform for release of their films

– Zubin Dubash

For now, the idea is to engage with the audiences and give them an experience that they have been missing through these unprecedented times.

We have acquired 6 critically acclaimed movies with a strong line-up of actors. Since our launch we have showcased 3 movies already and have received tremendous love and support from our viewers and content lovers in general

While we have begun our journey with Hindi, our aim is to be a democratic platform giving all mid to small budget films in all languages a common platform for release of their films.

ShemarooMe Box Office recently partnered with BookMyShow, what is the shared purpose of this partnership?

We have entered into a strategic partnership with BookMyShow for ShemarooMe Box Office to help us in our quest to redefine the movie-going experience in a new-normal world for cinema lovers across India.

BookMyShow is an iconic Indian entertainment brand and has a large audience pool, that we can tap into through this partnership.

This collaboration will allow users to effortlessly book their tickets for digital movie premieres, while simultaneously giving them another 3 days to watch the content as many times as they want on the app or website.The tickets are also available on the ShemarooMe’s website so that audiences have an even easier access to them.

Further, since ShemarooMe Box Office is a distinct offering, viewers will not have to subscribe for a yearlong membership to stream the movies under Shemaroo Me Box.

What results has this partnership with BookMyShow yielded?

Through the partnership with BookMyShow, we are not just bringing fresh content to more people but are also providing revenue opportunities to movies that would not have seen a launch otherwise

We have been able to bring something more and something unique for our audiences through, this while simultaneously making it an easy and customized process for experiencing theater at home.

In terms of the numbers, it is still too soon to tell, but we are hopeful that we will continue to reach more audiences and add additional content to make India khush.

What is the Revenue sharing model followed by Shemaroo Entertainment and BookMyShow?

There are multiple stakeholders to this model – producers, ticketing partners, marketing and promotion partners and streaming partner. Based on the inputs of each stakeholder we have worked out a fair revenue model for all.

Moreover, being in the content distribution business for decades, we also help producers with opportunities beyond ShemarooMe Box Office, giving them augmented monetisation of the film.

What is ShemarooMe doing to diversify its content from other OTT players to stand apart from the clutter?

Shemaroo has been leading the entertainment landscape since the past 57 years, with a vast library of multi-lingual and multi-regional content for our diverse set of audiences.

ShemarooMe offers content in regional languages like Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi,along with the devotional category which includes shlokas, bhajans, live darshans of temples,kids content and various genres.

For the movie buffs, under ShemarooMe’s Bollywood Premiere we host World Digital Premieres of critically acclaimed Bollywood movies every Friday.

We understand that our audiences have diverse preferences and we are now giving them the freedom to choose the content they like and pay only for what they watch.

On ShemarooMe Box Office,we will have movies across a wide range of genres right from critically acclaimed masala Bollywood blockbusters to bringing the magic of regional cinema to movie lovers, the platform will have something for everyone.

What are the trends that we should look out for when it comes to content delivery in India?

The year 2020 can be touted as the year of digital entertainment, with OTT platforms leading the industry in terms of content offerings as well as catering to millions of daily viewers.

According to the Global Over-The-Top (OTT) Market report published by Research Dive there is a 30% increase in the number in the viewer’s percentage in the entertainment sector post-COVID.

Seeing how the pandemic has impacted us all personally, people will still want to practice social distancing post the “unlocks”,along with multiple government restrictions and precautions which are likely to be in place for quite a while.

Due to this, digital theatre experiences at home and streaming on connected devices will continue to increase. Newer technology, adoption of 5G, customized monetary models and better streaming experience will also positively impact the content delivery side of digital entertainment in the coming future.

In addition, with the persisting uncertainty around theatrical releases we believe more filmmakers will look at digital premieres, and this shift has already begun with a lot of big budget movies too now seeing an OTT release.

How is the business shaping up in times of Covid-19? What has been the impact of COVID on OTT platforms?

The pandemic has impacted the day to day functioning of the entertainment industry in India in a massive way.

However, OTT platforms have seen a positive impact as the precautionary norms and subsequent habit formation have resulted in more people streaming content online with content viewing hours also increasing during the lockdown.

ShemarooMe has also seen a surge in viewership during this period wherein our impressive library of content has kept our viewers constantly entertained through these tough times.

In the past few years people have started to show more and more interest in small budgeted, indie films, why do you think it took so long for people to discover them?

The content preference patterns have shaped up in a very interesting way over the years in India. From masala entertainers ruling the box office to indie films venturing into mainstream cinema, we have come a long way.

New age viewers are more aware and have access to a lot of global trends and conversations the Millennial, Gen Z want content that is entertaining yet extremely unique and story driven

– Zubin Dubash

The main reason for this could be attributed to the fact that new age viewers today are more aware and have access to a lot of global trends and conversations.

The Millennial and Gen Z generations especially want content that is entertaining yet extremely unique and story driven. And small budget and indie films give them just that.

Moreover, the indie film industry is also witnessing global and national recognition through their unique content, along with popular stars choosing interesting scripts to expand their creative bandwidth. Lastly, the production quality too is getting better over time and is almost at par with A-list, mainstream movies.

Apart from this, film festivals, special awards and categories also have helped bring these genres to the forefront, thereby adding to their popularity.

Since the initial release of OTT platforms in India some producers were against direct screening, what’s in it for producers willing to opt for ShemarooMe Box Office?

Even though the government has started unlocking the restrictions, we will still have to follow some safety measures when it comes to public spaces like theatres. While people are gearing up to go back to a “normal” world in phases, there is also a mass skepticism about being in crowded and closed spaces.

In such a scenario, OTT platforms are being preferred as the entertainment destinations and this trend will continue to hold momentum even after the lockdown is lifted as it gives consumers the convenience to stream as much content as they want anytime and producers also get that massive consumer reach.

ShemarooMe Box Office gives producers the perfect platform and reach to release their unreleased movies during this uncertain period and we believe that more and more filmmakers will start opting for digital premieres in the coming times. We are already in talks with a lot of producers to expand the content choices.

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