As far as corporate announcements go, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s flew under the radar, coming as it did in the middle of a lockdown.  

A month ago, Zee, one of India’s biggest media houses, said it would invest Rs 522 crore ($69 million) in Margo Networks. That’s a pretty penny, considering Zee bought an 80% stake in the startup in April 2017 for about Rs 70 crore ($9.2 million). Margo offers streaming connectivity under the brand name SugarBox. 

SugarBox’s technology lets users stream content on their mobile phones  on the go without eating up their cellular data. Think in-flight entertainment systems. 

The company had a three-year incubation period, during which it focussed on research and development, and ran pilot projects. It also exclusively streamed content from Zee5, Zee’s over-the-top (OTT) entertainment platform launched in 2018. 

Origin Story

Zee5 was formed by the merger of two failed attempts in the digital space—Ditto Tv, a video-on-demand platform similar to Netflix that started in 2012, and Ozee, a YouTube-like advertising driven video platform launched in 2016.

Zee5 has had an uphill battle, trying to muscle its way into India’s 30-strong OTT market. Its rivals are formidable. There’s Star India Pvt Ltd’s Hotstar, Amazon’s Prime Video, and US streaming giant Netflix. It also has local rivals such as the Times Group’s MX Player. All of these platforms have carved a niche with exclusive and original content. 

Zee5, on the other hand, mostly streams shows that had already aired on Zee’s general entertainment channel Zee TV, in addition to original content. Or movies from its production company Zee Studio. Zee claims it has the largest bouquet of originals and has plans to launch over 80 this fiscal year. 

Moreover, Zee5 claims that it had 76.4 million monthly active users (MAUs) in June 2019. The Ken was unable to independently verify this number. Compare this to the 300 million viewers 300 million viewers Livemint IPL 2019: Hotstar garners 18.6 million concurrent viewers for finale Read more Hotstar had during the seven-week 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) season. Zee5 did not reveal how many paid subscribers it has.

SugarBox could offer Zee5 a leg up in the subscriptions game. It has installed nearly 250 systems in metro stations in Chennai and Hyderabad, bus stops in Chennai, and a few densely populated areas in Mumbai. Each of these modems, connected to a server, can support close to 100 people surfing SugarBox’s content. Users will need a Zee5 subscription but not one for SugarBox itself.

In addition, SugarBox won a RailTel RailTel RailTel RailTel Corporation of India Ltd.


Prasannata Patwa

Based in Mumbai, Prasannata writes about content start-ups, consumer products, and OTT platforms. When not chasing trends she likes to travel, and binge on documentaries. She previously worked at Mint and is an ACJ Bloomberg Business Journalism graduate.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at [email protected] detailing the error or queries.