India’s Zee Entertainment Enterprises is rolling out operations of its Zee5 streaming service in five new languages. The company is also upping its involvement in original content.

The moves were announced last week at the APOS conference in Indonesia by Archana Anand, chief business officer ZEE5 Global and are a further step up for the streaming platform. Zee5 was launched in India, in Feb 2018, with functionality in 12 Indian languages.

It was subsequently made available in 190 countries and territories in October, without additional languages, and catering primarily to the Indian diaspora market. Zee5 is now adding navigation and linguistic localization of selected content in Malay, Thai, Bahasa, German and Russian. More language additions are expected to follow in the coming months, including Chinese.

The service includes 100,000 hours of on-demand content and more than 60 live TV channels. They range from original series, movies and TV shows, music, live TV and health and lifestyle content.

Zee5 operates a fremium business model, with subscription tiers rising from $2-$8 per month, depending on the territory. Weekly options and so-called sachet pricing are also available, though full transactional VoD has yet to be launched.

“We did lots of consumer research before launching last year. We found that 98% would prefer a service in Hindi or other vernacular, rather than English. We Indians are increasingly comfortable with our roots,” Anand told Variety. “We added voice search, because of literacy levels.” It now claims 16m monthly active users in India.

International rollout plans focus first on India’s South Asian neighbors, followed by South East Asia. Other parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa will follow, complemented by language additions likely to include Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

“By the end of 2020, we aim to be the go-to destination for South Asian audiences, where there is a (total) population of 400 million outside India. We aim to be first or second in each market and will invest further in the strongest responding territories.”

Anand said that the company, which already has a massive library, will produce 72 original shows in the current year. These will be presented in six languages, and, along with acquisitions including “Simba,” mostly be available behind the paywall.

https://variety.com/2019/digital/asia/zee5-streaming-platform-seeks-overseas-audiences-1203199715/