Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) has decided to invest Rs. 522 crore in Margo Networks’ SugarBox to synthesize its position beyond OTT and AdTech.
SugarBox is a first-of-its-kind hyperlocal data distribution platform that provides internet services in areas of poor or no connectivity, by installing CDN Edge servers at key places of interest (POIs), which users can connect to over a local Wi-Fi network. Its POIs include public transport, public places, rural areas, hotels and co-living spaces, malls, and more where a mass of users access a host of digital services.
Using the SugarBox platform, a user will be able to stream and download videos, listen to music, play games, learn on-the-go, shop online, pay bills, order food and groceries, book onward transport and access other digital services, all without dependence on cellular data or even the need of an internet connection.
SugarBox co-founder and CEO Rohit Paranjpe said, “We are extremely excited about this development. ZEEL has been a pioneer in the field of entertainment in India and with their strong strategic focus on the digital space, our synergies matched perfectly. With this investment, SugarBox will commence commercial operations across exclusive long-term contracts like L&T Metro, Chennai Metro, NMMT, Kolkata Metro, Indian Railways and forge new partnerships to scale up its network. SugarBox is at the forefront of revolutionising availability, affordability and reliability of digital services for the next billion users globally – something that even Big Tech has struggled to achieve sustainably. This investment will provide a giant leap towards us achieving that goal.”
Founded in August 2016 by Ripunjay Bararia and Paranjpe, the startup is also working on government projects whereby it will be offering a catalogue of more than 4000 movies to citizens through its common service centres (CSCs) or digital kiosks.
Meanwhile, ZEEL has acquired 80 per cent equity in SugarBox and wants to integrate the services of the start-up with the current businesses of the company to augment digital content consumption. ZEEL also plans to synthesize its position by going beyond the over-the-top (OTT) video streaming and advertising services.
ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka noted, “Our investment in SugarBox, gives a strong fillip to the overall digital business, sharpening its approach by many folds. The unique technology will enable us to serve content to consumers across the Nation, without being restricted by connectivity constraints. We are confident that this synergy will create a strong foundation for us, as we progress towards offering relevant content to consumers across platforms.”
SugarBox is expected to reach 25 mn users daily and 300 mn monthly unique users by mid-2022, unlocking an aggregate of 2.5 bn hours of monthly consumption in a near-captive environment, where access to internet services is otherwise limited due to uneven connectivity.