Shabir Momin, CEO, Zenga TV, is one of the founders of the Zenga group of companies. He is a young, successful entrepreneur and a professional with an excellent track record in Mobile VAS, mobile media and telecommunications. Shabir’s current venture, Zenga, primarily comprises ZengaTV (one of its kind mobile TV service with live streaming and exclusive content like Colors, MTV, having a monthly average viewership of 30+ million user views), Cricket Companion a.k.a Crick Zenga (world’s largest used mobile cricket application with more than 8 million users with a global award winning track record) and Zengamail (a unique push mail solution for mobiles). Under Shabir’s leadership, Zenga has also participated and successfully delivered projects on the digital platform for major brands like IPL, Champion’s League T20, MTV, Crunch, Sunburn, etc. In the past, he has been the Asia Head for a technology innovation company called Picsel Technologies (UK) and Sentac Inc. (USA). He has also been CEO Asia for I-Connect Inc., a U.S. based MNC, an operation comprising more than 9000 seats working out of the Asia Pacific region. Some other leading brands that Shabir has worked with are Obopay (a mobile financial solution) and Polaris Wireless. He carries with him a vast experience in software development and networks as well.
Zenga TV is one of the leading providers of TV services for Live TV channels, other entrainment, reality shows and news content optimized for viewing on mobile and web screens. The unique technology works on delivering the best possible mobile TV experience optimized for the type of the device and the kind of network being used. Zenga’s mission is to bring Interactive, Collaborative, On Demand, and Informative Entertainment into the hands of mobile users in an optimized and cost effective way. Zenga TV was also the exclusive, mobile, live video streaming provider for IPLT20 in year 2009 where Zenga streamed Live IPLT20 matches on mobile and managed the delivery across 140 Countries and for the first time showed the world the experience of watching continues & live Cricket Match on mobile. Zenga also delivered the Live IPL in 2010 on You tube, which was again the first time for IPL on web. Zenga holds the exclusive rights to Viacom 18 Channels like Colors TV and MTV which has a strong following in India. Zenga has done many live, unique and exclusive events like Sunburn from Goa and Crunch for MTV which was a Live 24 x 7 reality shows on web and mobile.
Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Shabir Momin says, “Zenga has cut down the data requirements to be more cost effective while offering superior bufferless viewing at as low as 12MB for 1 hour of viewing.”
Mobility has indeed become the buzzword. Broadly, what impact do you see it having on our daily lives of consumers?
Yes, the lifestyle is changing in every aspect. Less time at home (thus less time with your TV or other entertainment at home), long waiting hours in transits, travel, between work and other opportunities during the daily course of the day, people are looking for engagement options. Currently we see a lot of social media interaction happening on hand held devices, this does and will add to the requirement and demand of entertainment sources like Mobile TV, Gaming etc in masses.
What would be the growth drivers of the Mobile app industry?
Lot of social networking, games and videos apps are going to be the key drivers.
Why has mobile TV not seen the adoption that was earlier anticipated?
There are many reasons why the adoption of Mobile TV was not as huge as expected. The gap between what users wants and what they get has been very big.
User’s spend on the mobile TV service in addition to the data charges resulted in a heavy bill and was a major hindrance. Now with 2G data rates becoming affordable (3G is still expensive), we will start witnessing a growth in adoption in comparison to earlier.
Other than this, bad user experiences affect the user mindset. They expect the same home quality uninterrupted service and don’t get what was promised.
Mobile TV subscription fee is also one of the major factors given the disparity in service, till the time the mobile TV subscription is nearly negligible or free, service uptake is going to be slow for general viewing.
However, now after a not so good start, this gap in Mobile TV services delivery vs. expectation is slowly narrowing down and thus contributing to renewed interest.
For a lay person, how does this work. What kind of data is consumed while viewing TV? Typically how much data would get consumed for an hour of viewing?
For most of the Mobile TV services in the market it could cost users as much as 72MB for a 1hour viewing, which at 10P per 10kb of data usage translated in to bank breaking amount of money and bill shock. We at Zenga have extensively optimized out services with use of superior technology and cut down the data requirements to be more cost effective while offering superior bufferless (un-interrupted) viewing at as low as 12MB for 1 hour of viewing. This enables the monthly Mobile TV viewing to easily fit in the subscribers’ data package without incurring the 10P per 10kb of data charges.
Why the name Zenga? Anything to do with that popular building game?
Zenga means freedom in Japanese, because we give most of our services free for users thus the name, giving freedom to users. There is no connection to the Gaming Company as we got incorporated earlier than them.
Tell us about the ownership structure of your company. Any plans to sell stake? How much are you looking at raising?
Zenga Group of companies is owned equally between me and Vikramjiet Roy (also a great old friend of mine). Currently we have set some goals for ourselves, once we achieve them in next couple of months (could be between next 3-13 months), we will go for a growth round of funding.
Give us an overview of the mobile TV service market. What growth are you seeing?
This industry is still in a nascent phase and will see significant growth for the next 8-10 years. We are currently growing at a rate higher than 200% annually and expecting an even higher growth rate in the coming years. Currently the industry is just around 1% of the total Indian market. Considering the rate at which new phones at affordable prices are coming, awareness of such services at low/ no extra cost will increase; Mobile TV service market will experience a boom in the coming years.
How do you go about managing the content and advertising?
We work very closely with content partners and attempt to become an extended part of their companies, managing their video deliveries and helping them capture the market share on the digital medium, as aspired and desired by them in the broadcast medium or movie industry.
Brief us on your financials. What is the revenue mix from various segments? How do you see it changing in the coming years?
We do most of our revenue from Handset embeds, Advertising and content based service resale. We will be adding more revenue streams and the growing the existing ones. The advertising revenue will grow significantly in the coming years.
When do you plan an IPO?
It’s too early to say something on that; it would depend on market situation and lot of other factors.