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Shemaroo, Zee Live are betting on live streaming but monetisation a challenge

Figures, however, are promising. Between March 2020 and now, 60-63 percent of the country in the 18-34 year age bracket are on some sort of live streaming. Also, with the live streaming market expected to see at least over 250 million users by the end of 2022, revenue-generation woes will slowly end, say industry experts.

July 22, 2021 / 11:29 AM IST
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Shemaroo Entertainment has this year, too, livestreamed the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra across all its digital platforms, including its over-the-top (OTT) platform ShemarooMe, and YouTube channel Shemaroo Bhakti, which has 8.08 million subscribers.

This time, the company added Hindi commentary to take the live streaming to a wider audience.

Live streaming is gaining steam among Indians, with the viewership for such events on the rise.

If we take Jagannath Rath Yatra's example, the viewership has doubled year-on-year, said Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment.

“On YouTube, the Yatra registered 600,000 streams, which was double last year’s and reached 1.2 million. And this year, in the first 48 hours, the live streams crossed a million streams," he added.


Along with devotional content, comedy, along with poetry and spoken word, has massive popularity, Swaroop Banerjee, Chief Business Officer at Zee Live, the live original content and IP division of Zee Entertainment, said. Music is also very popular and the influencer methodology has become big, he said.

Varun Saxena, Founder and CEO, Bolo Indya, pointed out "while entertainment events have grown as a contributor to live streaming-revenue during the pandemic and is expected to continue to grow at a decent pace in the post-pandemic world as well, the major growth will come from UGC (user-generated content) and PUGC (professional user-generated content) live streaming for non-gaming and sports categories as well."

Saxena of Bolo Indya, a short video-sharing platform which launched a live-streaming feature called Bolo Live this year, also noted that live streamers in the northern belt have shown the fastest adoption with Hindi, Punjabi, Bhojpuri and Haryanvi as the primary languages.

Adding to this, Banerjee said that, between March 2020 and now, 60-63 percent of the country in the 18-34 year age bracket are on some sort of live streaming.

This is resulting in the live streaming market to grow at 25 percent CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate).

"The live streaming market is growing, and that kind of size is unreal when compared to live entertainment on ground, which was averaging in the five years prior to 2019 at 13-14 percent CAGR," said Banerjee.

Saxena said that the live streaming market will see at least over 250 million users by the end of 2022.

While users and traction for live streaming events are going up, revenue is still a challenge as more people prefer free live-streaming content.

Revenue a challenge

For the live streaming of devotional content, Shemaroo depends only on ad revenue from YouTube, Gada said. Here, the per-view realisation is low.

"Live streaming still doesn't have a strong revenue model around it. For us, live streaming is bundled with other digital content, which is a value-addition for subscribers," he said.

While many platforms like Zee Live, BookMyShow and Paytm Insider have explored the live streaming space following the COVID-19 impact, which halted live on-ground events, monetisation is still a problem for such events.

This is because ticketing revenue is still at the lower end. Ticketed live streaming events are priced between Rs 99-Rs 199, which is significantly lower than the ticket prices of an on-ground event.

Yet, Banerjee is confident that the paying power will increase as events sold for between Rs 399-Rs 799 are also finding takers.

In addition, the advertising revenue is bridging the gap.

Brands bridging the gap

Industry players said that unlike on-ground events, where the revenue breakup was 70-75 percent from ticketing and 20-25 percent from brand sponsorships, on digital, it has flipped.

For Zee Live too, majority of the revenue comes from advertising.

Currently, the company is doing three to five advertisers per live stream event.

And they had roped in brands like Gillette, Sunsilk, Dove, Thailand Tourism for an event called It's a Girl Thing, for another event called Arth they had got on board four brands like Goodricke Tea, Rupa Frontline, Shalimar’s Chef, among others.

Along with advertiser interest, strong volumes are kicking in for live streaming events in terms of number of paid streams.

Volumes kicking in

An on-ground music concert of a known artiste saw the sale of 9,000 tickets in pre-COVID times. Another event of the same artiste that was livestreamed during COVID-19 registered 4,000- 4,800 per-minute ticketed stream.

This is why companies are coming up with more livestreaming events.

Zee Live, which has launched a live stream division as a separate business model, will be launching five more projects in the live streaming space in Q3FY22.

As for Shemaroo, in a year, it livestreams 10-12 festival-based events and 14-15 live streaming of shrines.

Gada said that they will be offering a lot more devotional content, with the festival season around the corner.
Maryam Farooqui
first published: Jul 20, 2021 08:26 pm
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