Zee to infuse $68.4 mn in tech arm SugarBox

Zee to infuse $68.4 mn in tech arm SugarBox
Photo Credit: 123RF.com
14 Apr, 2020

Mumbai headquartered media major Zee Entertainment Enterprises has announced its plans to invest $68.4 million (around Rs 5,22 crore) in its arm Margo Networks, which operates content distribution platform under the brand name SugarBox.

The fund infusion, which will take place in a staggered manner, will enable SugarBox to create an infrastructure to provide hyperlocal content at all wi-fi enabled railway stations and at Kolkata metro stations, Zee Entertainment said in a statement.

Zee Group’s flagship company had acquired about 80% stake in SugarBox for $10 million (around Rs 75 crore) in 2017 to bolster its entertainment content on digital platforms. SugarBox was founded in 2016 by Ripunjay Baratria and Rohit Paranjpe.

SugarBox recently secured a 10-year long term exclusive contract with government-owned RailTel Corporation of India to provide its services at all wi-fi enabled stations. With the latest investment, the company will start operations at existing contracts such as L&T Metro, Chennai Metro, Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport, Kolkata Metro and Indian Railways. 

The company has developed a technology, which enables users access to mobile apps in places with no network without data limits or data charges. 

The platform is being tested on a pilot basis at Hyderabad and Chennai Metro stations. SugarBox claims that it has 22,000 daily users and expects to close the financial year 2019-2020 with a turnover of Rs 47 lakhs.

“With this, the SugarBox platform is expected to reach 25 mn users daily and 300 mn monthly unique users by mid-2022, spending an aggregate of 2.5 bn hours monthly in a near-captive environment,” Zee Entertainment said.  

In 2018, Zee Entertainment promoter Essel Group had announced plans to divest 50% shareholding to a global strategic partner to invest significantly in digital and non-traditional modes of content distribution in wake of entry of players such as Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime. 

On-demand over-the-top (OTT) digital content sector in India is a highly competitive space. In December, Star India owned Hotstar claimed that it has managed to make significant inroads in non-metro markets.

As of June, Hotstar was the most popular OTT platform, followed by Amazon’s Prime Video, SonyLIV, and Netflix, as per a Counterpoint Technology Market Research report.

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