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Exclusive: Zee5 set to launch TikTok-like product ‘HiPi’ within its app

Zee5 has been harbouring lofty ambitions in the digital content space. Since its launch in mid-2018, the OTT platform is in competition with MX Player and ALTBalaji to corner more eyeballs and subscriptions. Widening its horizon, Zee5 is set to launch a short video entertainment feature, a TikTok competitor, as early as next month.

Instead of launching a separate app, the short video feature will be integrated with the Zee5 app, said two sources aware of the company’s plan. “The feature will be called ‘HiPi’ and will be a part of the existing Zee5 app. The company wants to provide long-form and short-form content at one place,” said one of the sources requesting anonymity as the person is not allowed to speak to the media.

It’s worth noting that the company had confirmed it’s plans to launch a short video entertainment app Hypershorts in February.

“HiPi will be live on Zee5 app in a few weeks from now. Unlike TikTok that allows only 15 seconds videos, it will have up to 90-seconds of user-generated content with a lip-syncing feature,” added the above-quoted person. 

Entrackr queries sent to Zee5 remain unanswered until the publication of the story. We will update the post as and when it responds.

HiPi would directly compete with TikTok which is widely popular in India and has 200 million users. “It would be very tough to drive adoption of HiPi amongst creators. While Bytedance has splurged money on onboarding influencers and driving downloads, Zee5 doesn’t have such a deep pocket. Importantly, Zee5 doesn’t have tech capabilities like TikTok’s parent,” said the second source requesting anonymity as well.

India is the largest market for TikTok in terms of downloads and usages after China. According to a Sensor Tower report, the app was downloaded 611 million times until May 2020. “HiPi will not think to compete with TikTok. They would try to scale it up organically with the reach of Zee5 and overall Essel ecosystem,” said the above-mentioned person.

The timing of the launch of HiPi seems to be in favour of Zee5. The fear of the spread of the coronavirus has been forcing people to confine themselves in their homes with limited outdoor activities. As a result, people are spending more time on entertainment apps and this could help HiPi gain initial momentum.

At present, there is anti-China sentiment in India because of tension at the border. People are calling out to uninstall apps like TikTok. This also could help HiPi to gain some ground. 

Recently, TikTok clone Mitron app surfaced from nowhere and amassed 5 million downloads in two months. The app was positioned as a ‘Made in India’ product and an alternative to TikTok. However, it was later revealed that the app’s code was bought from a Pakistani developer for a few thousand rupees. Even the design of the app was purely inspired by TicTic, a Pakistani short video app.

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