Still or Sparkling?
Zubin Jimmy Dubash is both.
And that’s precisely why he’s a whiz who’s zigged-zagged his way up the digital world. One of India’s most influential digital leaders,Zubin Jimmy Dubash can straddle any world with ease. He hasspent the last two decades building and running large-scale businesses across all ends of the digital spectrum. From learning the ropes at Microsoft, Vodafone, You Broadband to becoming the person whose shoes one would aspire to be in at Tata Docomo and India’s first offline store start up- Apps Daily
After a brief consulting stint with Shemaroo in 2016, he was brought in as COO Digital, to lead and build scalable Digital businesses in 2017. He currently leads the businesses of ShemarooMe – Shemaroo’s OTT platform, Content Monetization on Digital Platforms and Brand Solutions at Shemaroo; and is also leading the new and scalable digital businesses for Shemaroo.
In this Leaderspeak,the multi-faceted ZubinDubash spoke to us about the digital landscape, his vision for ShemarooMe, how he manages to pursue his passions and pack in so much into his 24-hour day, and a lot more.
With your ample experience across digital and telecom what is your role at Shemaroo Digital like? Challenging? Inspiring? And what is it that you bring to this role?
The journey has been enthralling, to say the least… A perfect blend of the day-to-day hustle of managing P&Ls on one hand, and stepping back to think about the big picture and new businesses on the other!
What I bring to the role is the ability to wear multiple hats with ease… and an acquired skill of being able to cut through layers, deal with ambiguity and yet get work done.
What are a few things which we don’t know about Zubin Jimmy Dubash as not the COO of Shemaroo? Your hobbies? What do you do on the weekends…beyond work?
My motto is to give everything my all. So I work hard and holiday harder with my family. As committed as my days are to work, holidays play a key role in de-stressing and allow me to “Zuflect”.
Over weekends, I make time to indulge my passions of painting, writing poetry, voiceovers, and karaoke. I write poetry for my team on their birthdays, about their little quirks and traits, with humour. It’s a great way to make them feel special on their day.
At the same time, finding my inner compass is key! I have written 365 gratitude practices to better one’s life and truly believe that everything in life begins with gratitude.
Your LinkedIn profile says that you are a Voice Over artist! Which are some of the Ads/On-Air Promos that you have voiced? And how did the singing and voicing come into your life?
Give a busy man more and he will find a way to do it! And given that voicing was always on my bucket list – I find time for it and given that it’s something I like doing – I have become super-efficient at it!
4 years ago, I chanced upon an email spam that invited me for audition of a 2-day crash course. I jumped onto it and by the end of the course, my Guru, Neeraj Verma, slotted as an English voice over artiste suited for Corporate AVs and promos. I took that as my starting point and since then I’ve done over 1,000 Voice overs!
What is it that drives you on a daily basis?
I only do things I love – whatever it may be! Also, I thrive on ambiguity and love the thrill of “figuring it out” – key skills to have and hone as you climb up the ladder.
How do you view the digital landscape with the current rush of OTT platforms across the market? Don’t you feel the content game is getting stronger and tougher day by day?
There are 40 OTT platforms in India at the moment and each one is vying for a chunk of the eyeball share. I cannot emphasise more – that the OTT game lies in managing the 3Cs to perfection – Content, Customer acquisition, and Connectivity. Each of these is a cost that begins from the day the rubber hits the road, the revenues sources being SVOD, AVOD, and Partnerships.
While many are in the valuation game, some, like ShemarooMe, are in it to build a business based on strong fundamentals and profitability. We work closely with the ecosystem and collaborate on innovative business models. While consolidation in the industry is a while away, we could see some interesting collaborations unfurl in the near future.
How is ShemarooMe performing? Could you share a progress report in terms of number of downloads, user base, MAUs, DAUs, subscription vs AVOD?
We are a profitability-focused OTT. We launched ShemarooMe in Feb 2019 and have been growing our user base gradually, through our own distribution network comprising of YouTube and social media. On YouTube alone, we are at a 100m MAUs, which helps drive traffic to ShemarooMe.
We know the legacy of Shemaroo and understand the number of films you own… so what is your target audience? Who should consume content on ShemarooMe? What is the ideal consumer profile?
ShemarooMe is the OTT for every lover of Indian content the world over.We offer over 10,000 hours of multi-genre content across, Bollywood Classics, newer Bollywood, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Devotional and Kids. With our heterogeneous following, we offer segmented pricing too. In India, our categories are priced at INR 49 a month or INR 499 a year and the ShemarooMe All Access Pack is priced at INR 129 a month and INR 999 a year.
Speaking of new Bollywood, tell us about the 52 weeks, 52 premiere initiative of ShemarooMe?
Customers are content loyal, not platform loyal; they jump from one OTT to another to find the right content. We saw an opportunity there. The formula was clear – a perfect mix of quality content at a committed frequency and at an affordable price. Which is how ShemarooMe Bollywood Premiere – a game-changer in the OTT space came through. For the very first time in OTT history, we offer a guaranteed promise. To deliver 52 movies over 52 Fridays, at just INR 499, even before the TV release of the film.
The Bollywood success mantra is changing. Gone are the days when star cast pre-decided the box office fate of a film. Today stories are the new stars. And that’s what we promise – movies with superlative stories and quality production. In the last 2 months we’ve seen some fantastic traction both from B2C users as well as the B2B fraternity who pick up vouchers in bulk, as they see it as a great bundling option with their products, and a gifting option for their clients, prospects, and even employees.
A lot of content you have in your library is for a co-viewing experience. OTT is a standalone experience. Do you expect any challenges in consumption due to this?
ShemarooMe offers a blend of long form and short form content across a multi-screen experience.We are currently present on ShemarooMe.com, iOS, Android, Android TV, AppleTV, Amazon FireTV, Chromecast, Roku (in the US), Cloudwalker TV, MiTV, LG TV and are growing our distribution rapidly with at least a dozen more platforms. Our vision is to be available on every video-consuming device to offer both “lean-back” and “lean-forward” experiences for TV and mobile audiences respectively.
What are the opportunities and need-gaps of consumers in India, and how is Shemaroo aiming to come upfront?
India is an amalgamation of multiple content-consuming segments, each as big as a country in terms of size. The key to success lies in deep understanding of consumer needs, not just based on data-led insights, but by actively listening to your customers. At Shemaroo, that’s our DNA – consumers, content, curation and convenience. One such example is this dire need for Classic Bollywood – a highly under-served segment, seeking quality curation and content!
We run a YouTube channel called Shemaroo FilmiGaane, the world’s largest Retro Bollywood Music Video channel with over 30m subscribers, growing organically at 1m subs per month. They love their pure, un-adulterated, classic content. We carefully listen to their comments and plan our content strategy based on those precious gems of insights.
What are the major sources of revenues for ShemarooMe? How do you plan to expand your current revenue streams?
Our core focus is on partnerships – in India and internationally as well. Our strategy is to work all players in the ecosystem -from telcos, to ecommerce apps, to news publishing apps, to travel apps, to food apps, smart phone OEMs, smart TV OEMs, and other video apps – on innovative monetization models to synergise with their objectives.
We do offer both AVOD and SVOD models on ShemarooMe. AVOD is limited while most of our content is behind the pay wall. On B2C SVOD, we keep a sharp eye on spends. We work with lots of networks to drive subscriptions on a revenue-sharing basis.
Being an industry leader, according to you, is it the user experience that can make or break an OTT Platform because, with so many choices, nobody wants to keep waiting for the buffering to end, as it were? Tell us about how you have designed Shemaroo’s front and back end to ensure a better UI and security for the user and of course deliver a seamless entertainment experience.
ShemarooMe is arguably the lightest video streaming OTT app in the country running on world-class video technology, built by our partners Saranyu Technologies in Bangalore. The ShemarooMe technology stack is one of its kind, with the most optimal, highly scalable technology between consumer Apps and the backend platform, to ensure the best OTT user experience for our consumers.Coupled with a simple, yet delightful user interface, ShemarooMe provides consumers the most satisfying video consumption experience.
Where do you see the brand in a year from now?
Firmly focussed on our content innovation around Bollywood Premiere, we aim to expand ShemarooMe with at least 50 large monetization partnerships in the next one year.