Media content house Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd is looking at a brand refresh through the launch of its new over-the-top (OTT) streaming service ShemarooMe.

The nearly 60-year-old company, which has specialized in home entertainment including video cassettes and DVDs, aims to launch the subscription-based platform in the first quarter of 2019.

However, Shemaroo will not go aggressive on promoting the app independently as it looks to partner with key telecom companies, cable, and direct-to-home firms both domestic and international, to have the service integrated with them.

“We looked at how the digital space was evolving and saw this foray as a huge opportunity," said Hiren Gada, chief executive officer, Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd.

In March 2018, the online video audience in India stood at 250 million, a figure that is expected to double in three years and triple in five, Gada said.That kind of massive growth creates huge opportunities for the company.

Over the last year-and-a-half, Shemaroo has reorganized its top leadership and inducted professional talent at senior positions to aid its digital foray.

The 55-year old Shemaroo logo has been updated, too.

“The main identity of the company continues, but the industry, consumer and business model have changed; so we have to update according to where we are and aspire to go," Gada said.

The idea for now, is not to be a fully B2C (business-to-consumer) player. Shemaroo believes a telecom firm or a cable company that curates content will do the job better.

Shemaroo’s content will not be exclusive to any service but integrated within the broader list of a distribution network.

Without disclosing investment details, Gada said the company is focusing on developing its basic digital offering, including backend, search and navigation options.

Once it is integrated with the partner, it will work on a revenue sharing arrangement, he said.

The digital foray is first driven by Shemaroo’s overall new media business.

The 50 Shemaroo channels on video sharing website YouTube together garner 30 million views daily, with two of them—Shemaroo and Shemaroo Filmi Gaane—part of the top 20 list of channels.

Second, there is an exhaustive library dominated by Bollywood content.

Shemaroo boasts of 3,700 movie titles across Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Marathi, and Bengali, running into 8,000 hours.

The non-film content, including devotional, kids’, health and fitness and classic sitcoms, makes up another 4,000 hours.

“Shemaroo’s library is a big asset, it has been one of the pioneers of content in the Hindi film industry," said film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar. “While economics have to be kept in mind, a digital foray is only a natural progression."

However, Karishma Bhalla, partner and director, Boston Consulting Group, pointed out that with nearly 34 over-the-top players currently in India, it’s turning out to be a big boys’ game. “Not only is consumer acquisition tough but monetization is extremely challenging because subscription is not a proven business model and advertising on video lacks eyeballs," Bhalla said.

While a player such as Shemaroo may have a large movie library, the differentiator will be its exclusive content, the kind that pulls people in.

Shemaroo says it’s ready.

“The consumer in India is heterogeneous, in that sense, we are like Europe and not the US, where we are made up of many countries, not one," Gada said. “Everyone has different needs, if we are able to identify and meet some of those, we’re confident we will connect very well with the consumer and a good model could emerge," Gada added.

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