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Shemaroo gears up for digital era; adds devotional app Ibaadat

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MUMBAI: Right at the opportune time, one of India’s oldest media companies, Shemaroo Entertainment, has launched a new devotional app called Ibaadat.

The Islamic devotional app will contain live feeds, devotional tunes, an e-commerce platform, donation service, etc. Over time, customer feedback will enrich the app’s growth.

On the reason for picking the Islamic faith, Shemaroo Entertainment CEO Hiren Gada said, “For us, it is not about choosing a particular religion. We already have content and presence in all the major religions in India whether it’s Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism or Jainism. In fact, we already have a Hindu app in place, Hari Om. The next biggest population is the Islamic population. So, the idea is how many more people we can help connect with their faith.”

About five years ago, there was an inflexion point when the company realised that digital is soon going to explode. “There are a lot of changes overall as an organisation that we have been going through the last few years. We have been preparing ourselves for the digital era. Some of these initiatives which we are seeing are a result of this,” he said.

While the company’s digital segment has grown at roughly 40 per cent y-o-y, it stands roughly around 25 per cent of the total business.

Very recently, Shemaroo opened its US office which is still in its initial stage. Rather than making content to cater to the US audience, it will try to serve the diaspora with existing content. “First opportunity is to be able to serve the diaspora with existing content we have in a much better way because we felt that it was clearly an underserved consumer segment for us which we saw based on various platforms we were present. So that was our first target, and that itself is a large task by itself,” Gada said.

He did not reveal any firm plan on whether the company wanted to go the OTT way any time soon.

The Ibaadat app is free except for some services which have minimal charge. For now, it is only available on Android and the iOS version is on the way. For promoting the app, Shemaroo is targeting DTH and social media.

The content library is a combination of outsourced as well as the content created in house. It will be tying up with more shrines in future.

Just three months ago, Hari Om was launched where people could tune into live telecast of aartis, order Prasad at their doorstep from temples across the country, listen to teachings of top gurus and even book religious services or orders.

Once associated with classic movies of the previous century, Shemaroo has evolved over time staying relevant to the current age. The next challenge is to make Shemaroo digital-savvy.

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