Netflix’s India rival creates another TikTok competitor

  • Mobile apps
  • Monday, 17 Aug 2020

India in June banned 59 Chinese apps, including ByteDance Ltd’s TikTok. — AFP

Zee5, the streaming service set up by India’s biggest private television broadcaster, is starting a short-video platform as firms rush to capture space left vacant by the government’s ban on TikTok.

Celebrities, influencers and commoners can all shoot and upload 90-second videos on the new service HiPi, Tarun Katial, chief executive officer of Zee5, said in an interview. The unit of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd is battling to defend its turf in the fight with global giants such as Netflix Inc and Walt Disney Co to grab viewers in India.

India in June banned 59 Chinese apps, including ByteDance Ltd’s TikTok, after a brutal border face-off between the Indian and Chinese militaries left 20 Indian soldiers dead. Within hours, local rivals like Roposo, Chingari and Bolo Indya notched up titanic user numbers.

"The HiPi launch has nothing to do with the TikTok ban in India. We were working on HiPi for the last one year,” Katial said. Zee5 is now an "entertainment super-app” with content ranging from normal streaming fare to short videos to take on social media giants, he said.

The broader digital strategy will help differentiate the company’s product, together with shows in the various Indian languages that Zee5 offers, Katial said. – Bloomberg

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